Diapers could soon come with a sensor that alerts caregivers by SMS when the diapers are soiled. Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR have invented an "intelligent continence management system" comprising a thin disposable sensor strip, a compact wireless transmitter, a receiver and software, which has the potential to improve the care of elderly and bedridden patients.
"Lying in soiled diapers for prolonged periods is not only uncomfortable and unhygienic, but may also cause skin rashes and infection for the wearer. While increasing the frequency of diaper checks and changes may help to reduce this problem, it would also add to the workload of caregivers. Clearly, there is a need for an alternative solution," said IBN Executive Director, Professor Jackie Y. Ying, who led the research effort.
Timely replacement of soiled diapers is a challenge for caregivers of patients who are unable to communicate this need, such as those who suffer from aphasia, the loss of speech after a stroke or brain injury.
IBN's sensor can be easily integrated into the adult diapers currently available in the market to facilitate timely diaper change. It comes in the form of a thin, lightweight strip of metal, plastic and paper. This inexpensive strip will be embedded in the diaper and can be disposed easily after use. The wireless transmitter, which is connected to the sensor, is easily attached and removed for reuse.
IBN's system tracks the wetness level in the diaper via the sensor. Once the diaper wetness reaches a predetermined level, the sensor will transmit a signal wirelessly to the caregivers using their preferred interface such as SMS. This will prompt the caregiver to change the patient's diaper when needed.
IBN conducted a clinical validation of the prototype on 20 elderly residents at
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Materials provided by The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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