Five new technologies for treating or managing incontinence have been awarded proof of concept funding by IMPRESS (Incontinence Management and Prevention through Engineering and Science).
The IMPRESS project – in which the HTC is a partner – aims to encourage more engineers and scientists to work on tackling faecal and urinary incontinence, to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from these conditions.
Over £15K has been awarded by IMPRESS to five institutions across the UK: University College London (UCL), Imperial College London, the Universities of Bristol and Leeds and Bristol Robotics Lab, a collaboration between the University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol.
IMPRESS project manager Sarah King said: “As urinary incontinence is more common than faecal, it tends to get a greater research focus, so we’re pleased that the funding awarded in our first grants will be used to make advances in tackling both conditions.”
The research projects funded are:
- A ‘smart’ anal plug, able to both physically block faecal incontinence and sense the performance of the anal sphincter muscle to provide diagnostic information (Imperial and Leeds)
- A tactile sensing capsule and associated software that can identify different types of contraction in the rectum during defecation, to improve diagnosis of the causes of faecal incontinence (Bristol Robotics Lab)
- A new technique to improve the success rate of surgery to repair the anal sphincter muscle using fat tissue in place of stitches (UCL)
- New testing techniques using biological and artificial skin models to understand how pressure ulcers develop in the presence of urine or faeces on an incontinence pad (Leeds)
- An implantable device that blocks signals from the pelvic nerve to allow extra time for patients with urinary incontinence to reach a toilet (Bristol)
The projects run until March 2016. If IMPRESS is successful in securing follow-on funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, then further grants may be made available to take one or more of the technologies beyond initial proof of concept.