08:03pm Monday 21 October 2019

New technology to improve care for children with diabetes

Innovative staff at Sheffield Children´s NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield´s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, are working on a support system for patients with Type 1 diabetes, which is being piloted this autumn.

Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.

There are 22,000 cases of Type 1 diabetes in the UK in children under the age of 16. Sufferers need up to four injections of insulin a day to maintain the body´s correct blood sugar levels, which is vital to keep a sufferer alive.

But doctors are finding that due to a busy lifestyle, sufferers can forget to take their insulin, which could lead to hyperglycaemia or long-term complications.

The WITHCARE system will act as an intervention, monitoring blood sugar levels using mobile phone technology as a relay between the patient and the diabetes team within the Trust.

It will implement an SMS service to determine whether a patient´s blood sugars are too high or low. It will be a fully automated system which will allow patients and the team to work more closely together. The WITHCARE system will allow the patient to be able to choose from graphical feedback, or texts, and whether the alerts will also be sent to parents and teachers.

Dr Mohammed Benaissa, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: “WITHCARE is about a care driven approach to healthcare engineering which delivers technology innovations that impact on healthcare by having both the patient and clinician as an integral part of the `engineering loop´.”

“This technology is not in routine practice yet, but the aim is for the system to reduce the risk of patients with diabetes developing long-term complications and help improve their
quality of life.”

Dr Neil Wright, who is leading the study at Sheffield Children´s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “For the last three years, we have been working closely with Dr Mohammed Benaissa and his team at the University of Sheffield to develop the WITHCARE system.

“As everybody knows, text messages aren´t a new technology, but applying it to clinical practice is. At present, this is a concept, but we know the system works and we are eager to start the pilot.”

Dr Wright added: “Although there are many positives of this study, the technology isn´t for everyone and the standard maintaining treatment and care routes will still be in place.

“We are confident that this new way of interacting with professionals will help to improve a child´s quality of life.”

Notes for Editors: The WITHCARE system will be piloted with 24 families.

For more information on the Sheffield Children´s NHS Foundation Trust, visit the link below.

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield is one of the largest in the UK. Its seven Departments include over 2,500 students and 700 staff and have research-related income worth more than £40M per annum from government, industry and charity sources. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise confirmed that two thirds of their research was in the top two categories of Internationally Excellent or Internationally Leading. In the 2008 National Student Survey, 93% of graduates expressed satisfaction with their courses, placing the Faculty equal first in the UK. The faculty has a long tradition of working with industry as exemplified by the award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the new £25 million Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC). To find out more, visit the link below.

For further information please contact: Shemina Davis, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2225339 or email shemina.davis@sheffield.ac.uk or Kate Lahive or Natalie Ross Natalie@hrmedia.org.uk or call 0114 221 0354.

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