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Five technologies to tackle incontinence aim to IMPRESS

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.