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Clever mattress cover has bedsores beaten

June 24th, 2010

AN INVENTION by a Welsh entrepreneur could save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

Costing just 70p a day for each hospital bed, Frank Edwards’ mattress design has the potential to prevent a potentially lethal complication of inpatient treatment.

As his intelligent mattress designs – the Synidor system – are due to go into manufacture, they have been hailed as one of the most interesting developments in the management of bed sores in the last 30 years.

The mattress, which can sense when a patient is not moving and alert healthcare staff, could cut the number of patients who develop a pressure ulcer by between 20% and as much as 60%.

Synidor Bed Sensor

Dr Michael Clark, manager of the Welsh Wound Network, said: “I’ve see lots of attempts to monitor patients’ movement but this technology is one of the most interesting devices I’ve seen in 30 years working in the pressure ulcer environment.”

“It goes to the heart of understanding the risk factors and targets the response so we understand who needs to be moved and when.”

It is estimated one in five patients admitted to hospital will develop a bed sore, which, in severe cases, can be deadly.

It costs the NHS more than £1bn a year to treat patients who develop pressure sores, which can occur when a person is bedridden, unconscious, immobile or unable to sense pain.

The Synidor system, developed by Mr Edwards, is a “smoke alarm” for bed sores, reminding healthcare staff to turn patients.

Designed initially for wheelchairs before being incorporated into a mattress cover and later a hospital mattress itself, it incorporates a sensor which lies under the bottom of a patient’s spine. If a patient has not moved for a certain period of time it alerts healthcare staff. The alarm can be set to go off at intervals of 30 minutes.

Mr Edwards, who tested the system on his mother Wendy, who developed a pressure sore while in hospital, said it can also help speed up recovery.

He said: “This is not a solution – it’s an aid to prevent pressure sores and I’m certain we can succeed in getting a reduction in pressure sores.”

Dr Clark said: “Pressure ulcers cost between 1% and 4% of the total healthcare budget, which is a frightening amount of money. This isn’t just a question of pounds and pence as pressure ulcers really impact on individual’s quality of life – in severe cases they can lead to death.”

“This is also about the quality of healthcare we should be providing in 2010. Preventing people who already ill developing complications like pressure ulcers is clearly something that would improve the quality of care delivered within the NHS in Wales.”

The Synidor system, which has been successfully trialled by the Sunderland NHS Trust, has been developed with help from the University of Glamorgan, the Institute of Life Science, at Swansea University and the Wales Innovators Network.

Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills, said: “I am delighted the Welsh Assembly Government has been able to support the development of this highly innovative system and pleased to see how the expertise within our universities is being used by business to help develop products with great commercial potential.”