Pioneering gloves seek to tackle skin disorders


Building on a recently completed, award-winning project,which developed seamless dressing retention garments for people suffering from the rare skin condition, Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), this new research will focus specifically on how to protect and prolong patients’ use of their hands. Hands are an especially difficult area for people with such skin conditions. They often need frequent surgery, or have to wear cumbersome splints, to prevent their fingers fusing together and their hands contracting. Hand deformities can worsen with age, and surgical correction becomes increasingly difficult. The project will look at developing a wound dressing glove and a ‘splint glove’, incorporating computer-knitted textiles with an engineered system of adjustable splints and electronic sensors, which will relay information and allow practitioners to remotely monitor the condition of their patients’ hands.

To this aim, Dr Patricia Grocott, Reader in Palliative Wound Care, King’s College London, and the principal investigator on the project, will lead a unique collaboration between patients,clinicians, academic researchers, clothing design consultants, garment manufacturers, economists, bio-engineers, electrical engineers, textile manufacturers, a digital data capture and a 3D scanning company. Together, the team of experts will work with patients over a three year period to co-design and test these two novel high tech gloves, which will aim to delay hand deformities and reduce both surgical interventions and hospital stays.

Speaking after the announcement of the funding Dr Grocott, who works closely with the specialist EB team at St Thomas’ and Great Ormond Street Hospitals, said, “this funding will enable us to investigate practical evidence-based solutions for people with painful and disabling conditions affecting their hands. These conditions require lengthy procedures,such as dressing changes. On the hands this means wrapping individual fingers with dressings and bandages, which inevitably takes a long time, intrudes on someone’s day, and is costly…Not only can these new products relieve patients and clinicians of much of the painful, time consuming and repetitive tasks associated with hand therapy, they can also save patients’ time and NHS money. Also exciting are the prospective applications for the new technologies we’redeveloping and testing. While this project focuses on patients with EB, I’ve already had interest from people looking to treat other skin conditions, for example burns. There is a lot of potential here to help many people.”

The design process for the new products will incorporate digital and electronic data capture systems to enable clinicians to obtain exact measurements of an individual’s hands, which will also be used by the manufacturers, meaning the products will be tailored to fit and function optimally for each patient.

In addition the researchers will work on a workable economic model that will provide a means of determining the value of the new devices,over current options. The team anticipates that there will be a considerable cost saving to be made through using the new products.


Notes to Editors

For further media information please contact Oliver Stannard (Communications Officer) on 0207 848 3062 or [email protected]

For further information about King’s visit ourKing’s in brief  page.

About the Woundcare in Epidermolysis Bullosa (WEB) project

In 2013, the Woundcare in Epidermolysis Bullosa project won the Guardian University Award for Outstanding Research Impact.

Read about why the Guardian chose this project on the Guardian website.

For more information and for a video about this project,which has led to the recent funding from NIHR, please visit our webpage.

About the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery at King’s College London is the world’s first professional Faculty of nursing established by Florence Nightingale. The number one Nursing and Midwifery educational institution in London and highly regarded by leading London NHS Trusts with links to industry, health services and policy makers, the Faculty develops leading-edge nurses and midwives of tomorrow – practitioners, partners, researchers and leaders in their field. All education at the Faculty is research-led, meaning students benefit first-hand from the leading edge of nursing and midwifery research.

The School has over 1,000 full-time students training to be nurses and midwives, plus an extensive portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate activities to meet the needs of a wide range of healthcare professionals seeking continuing professional development.  The School is at the forefront of health services, policy and evaluation research.

About the National Institute for Heath Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website.