Research group develops gloves which relieve pain for Raynaud's sufferers

Cutting-edge textile technology from Nottingham Trent University is being used to develop gloves which can help alleviate the pain caused by Raynaud's phenomenon.

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Prototype work on heated gloves
Development of reliable heated gloves . . . will empower people to manage their Raynaud's phenomenon at home.

Professor Tilak Dias

Cutting-edge textile technology from Nottingham Trent University is being used to develop gloves which can help alleviate the pain caused by Raynaud's phenomenon.

Raynaud's is a debilitating condition, affecting 5-10% of the general population, which causes interruption of the blood supply to the extremities, such as the fingers and hands, making them feel extremely cold, turn white and triggering intense pain.

Heated gloves have been shown to help alleviate the pain and are prescribed on the NHS but tend to be cumbersome, uncomfortable and often impractical because bulky heated elements are sewn into the gloves.

That is why Nottingham Trent University's Advanced Textile Research Team, led by Professor Tilak Dias, is working with medical consultant and Raynaud's research specialist Dr Marina Anderson to develop a glove in which the heating elements are actually integrated into the knitted structure of the glove, allowing them to be extremely thin and practical.

This technology also means the gloves are flexible enough to allow the wearer to operate a mobile phone or cashpoint and handle small change – all activities which are difficult or even impossible with current products available. The gloves are also fully washable and look appealing.

Professor Dias said: "Now is the time to introduce state-of-the-art, fully textile-based heating zones where the fibres themselves provide the heat in a controlled manner. Development of reliable heated gloves that are lightweight, thin, flexible, washable, easy to put on due to the inherent stretch, allow excellent dexterity and grip, incorporate only a small lightweight battery with excellent battery life and are aesthetically pleasing will empower people to manage their Raynaud's phenomenon at home."

The project has received £128,182 of funding over two years from the Raynaud's and Scleroderma Association which will allow the team at Nottingham Trent University to work with patients attending Dr Anderson's Raynaud's clinic at Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool to design the gloves according to wearers' needs.

By working with these design groups the researchers will have a better understanding of where heater zones should be placed within the gloves to promote the best blood flow to the fingers. The team will then produce a range of gloves with heater zones of different sizes and locations to be trialled by the group.

Dr Anderson said: "Raynaud's phenomenon affects a lot of people, causing pain and preventing the hands from working normally. Unfortunately, existing medical treatments have limited benefits and frequently cause side effects. The development of state-of-the-art heated gloves, guided by Raynaud's sufferers themselves, provides the opportunity to alleviate symptoms while allowing the person with Raynaud's to lead a normal life. As a doctor and clinical researcher who has been frustrated by the lack of tools available to relieve the distress of Raynaud's, this collaborative research initiative is an exciting and promising project which has real potential to make a significant difference to the lives of people with Raynaud's."

The aim is for the finished product to have a relatively low manufacturing cost so that it is value for money for the NHS to prescribe and people to buy.

Liz Bevins, CEO of the Raynaud's and Scleroderma Association, said: "We are delighted to support this project at Nottingham Trent University, with Dr Anderson and the dedicated research team. Raynaud's sufferers frequently have issues in keeping their hands warm and having a battery operated, external heat source that is compact, lightweight and user friendly, means we are confident it will bring a great level of comfort and relief to those with daily challenges."

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Kirsty Green, Press and Public Affairs Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8799, or via email.

    Research into traditional heated gloves used to alleviate pain association with Raynaud's has shown dissatisfaction with wearers.

    In a recent questionnaire of 50 patients attending the Raynaud's clinic at Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool, 74% had used specialised gloves. 86% were dissatisfied with these appliances. Frequent comments were that the products were 'too bulky', were 'not practical' and were 'no good'. Positive comments were rare. Of those who had experienced heated gloves, 25% no longer used these appliances at all and 75% did not use these products daily, despite patients usually experiencing Raynaud's attacks on a daily basis.

Research group develops gloves which relieve pain for Raynaud's sufferers

Published on 23 January 2015
  • Category: Research; School of Art & Design

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