NTU knitting technology could help wounded soldiers

Knitted breathable prosthetic sleeves are being developed by Nottingham Trent University researchers in an agreement with the Ministry of Defence to improve the comfort of injured military personnel.

Knitted breathable prosthetic sleeves are being developed by Nottingham Trent University researchers in an agreement with the Ministry of Defence. The sleeves improve the comfort of injured military personnel by preventing ulcers and stopping the uncomfortable build-up of perspiration between an amputee's residual limb and the prosthesis.

The Advanced Textile Research Group at the University has used 3D knitting technology to produce seamless and breathable sleeves, worn between the residual limb and the artificial limb, which prevent sweat from being trapped in the prosthesis. Seamlessness is also important, as seams in a sleeve can cause discomfort and pressure necrosis – damage to skin tissue caused by sustained pressure.

Professor Tilak Dias, head of the research group and Professor of Knitting at Nottingham Trent University, said: "The first phase of work has been completed, demonstrating the potential for sleeves knitted with smart yarns, which have the required grip, longitudinal stiffness and transverse flexibility, which can be customised for each individual amputee. Further research will be required to optimise parameters prior to commercialisation."Professor Dias' research team received nearly £66,500 from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) under a Centre for Defence Enterprise contract to develop the concept and prove its worth to the Ministry of Defence (MOD). On the strength of those results, Dstl is also funding the next phase. That will see the University's team work closely with personnel from the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court to begin user trials which will help develop a breathable and comfortable sleeve to address the problems with present sleeves.

Neal Smith, capability adviser for Medical Sciences at Dstl says: "The work undertaken by the University in addressing the needs of injured service personnel is showing great promise and has also highlighted the skills sets and capabilities available within the research team and Nottingham Trent University. We are now utilising these capabilities in wider parts of our medical sciences research programme, for example, in the development of training aids and wearable technologies."

The work undertaken by the University in addressing the needs of injured service personnel is showing great promise.

Neal Smith, Capability Adviser for Medical Sciences, Dstl

The University will exhibit and pitch this technology today (5 February) to an audience of defence industry experts and private investors at the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) Marketplace. Head of CDE, Andy Nicholson, said: "I'm very pleased to see this innovation developed by a university on display today and I'm glad that CDE funding helped Nottingham Trent University develop this important technology."

The technology also has the potential to improve the quality of life for amputees in the general population. Current prosthetic sleeves are constructed from textile fabrics coated with an impermeable sheet of silicone rubber Consequently, sweat is not transported away from the skin and accumulates within the sleeve which needs to be emptied.

Wing Commander Alex Bennett PhD FRCP, Head of Research, DMRC Headley Court, said: "Providing opportunities to ease the burden and improve the quality of life for injured service personnel is a priority for DMRC. Developments such as a breathable sleeve are crucial in achieving our aims."

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NTU knitting technology could help wounded soldiers

Published on 13 February 2015
  • Category: Press; School of Art & Design

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