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Development of smart medical textiles for treating breast cancer related lymphoedema S&T44

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T44

Lymphoedema is the swelling of soft tissues, caused by the accumulation of protein-rich fluid in extracellular space. It occurs as a result of disruption to the lymphatic system, usually of one or more limbs. Approximately 140-250 million people worldwide are currently suffering from different types of lymphoedema and it was estimated that 365,000 are affected by lymphoedema each year in the U.K alone. There is no cure for this chronic condition however there are treatments designed to reduce related pain and discomfort.

The current recommended treatment is decongestive lymphatic therapy. This combines manual lymph drainage massage techniques with compressive bandaging, skin care and decongestive exercises. Once these therapy sessions are stopped the patient is fitted with a custom-made compression garment, which is worn every day. Unfortunately, this solution causes several issues for the patient, such as 1) the size and appearance of compression garments makes them inconvenient; 2) compression treatments interfered with work and daily activities; 3) compression effectiveness is highly variable as the operating pressure is impacted by washing and wear.

There is therefore a need for an effective, unobtrusive, easy-to-use, device for treating lymphoedema that can be used at home. In response, this PhD project will develop a breakthrough smart medical textile garment (SMTG) designed to be effective and improve the quality of life of patients. The SMTG will use electrical stimulation (ES) in an unobtrusive and convenient wearable format to enable swelling reduction.

To achieve this aim, the project has several key objectives. Firstly, you will need to develop new printed circuits with increased flexibility and reliability. Secondly, the layout of the electrode pair positions in the garment needs to be refined. The influence of positioning, dimensions and number of electrodes therefore needs to be understood in order to generate a design rule that can be adapted for different patients. Thirdly, a new set of stimulation parameters for an array of printed electrodes will need to be developed. Fourthly, you will develop an integration method to connect printed electrodes to the stimulation circuit. The printed electrodes are currently connected using snap fasteners. This option provides a temporary solution and cracks often happens at the join between the fastener and printed tracks. Finally, you will evaluate the washability of SMTG and propose an optimised standard that would allow the electronic textiles to be washed safely.

The supervisory team consist of Director of Studies Dr Yang Wei and Co-Supervisors Professor John Hunt (NTU) and Professor Christine Moffatt (Nottingham University Hospital).

School strategic research priority

This project is strongly aligned with two strategic themes, Medical Technologies and Advanced Materials, and Health and Wellbeing.
Since the project is engineering oriented in which a novel wearable medical device will be developed, it also aligns with the Imaging, Materials and Engineering Centre.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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