Cardiff Student wins award for pressure ulcer-sensing mattress topper

hopsital ward
The finding could revolutionise hospital care to avoid pressure ulcers in the future. Source: 1662222 via Pixabay
Cardiff Student, Luthfun Nessa, wins over £40,000 in prizes for innovative mattress topper which senses early development of pressure ulcers.

By Holly Giles | Deputy Editor 

Luthfun Nessa, from the Cardiff School of Medicine, has won two innovation awards this month for her creation of CalidiScope: a mattress topper that uses novel sensors and machine learning to reduce pressure ulcers in patients. 

Pressure ulcers are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue caused by prolonged pressure. This is commonly seen in people unable to stand for long periods of time such as wheelchair users or patients on bed rest. This is an important condition for hospital patients as the wounds can be a source of infection and eventually reach muscle or bone, causing considerable pain and loss of mobility. It is estimated to affect 4-10% of patients admitted to hospitals in the UK and is predicted to be even more in care homes. This high prevalence highlights the need for more treatments for the condition and innovative technologies to prevent these sores developing.

This is the challenge answered by CalidiScope as it uses novel sensors to detect potential formation of pressure ulcers in patients to allow rapid treatment. The technology uses machine learning to send these results to workstations and devices to notify nurses that the patient should be moved to prevent ulcers developing. 

This innovative mattress topper was created by Luthfun Nessa, from Cardiff School of Medicine, and Anna McGovern, a data scientist at Harvard University. Their creation was such a success that they won £10,000 at the Institute of Global Health Innovation’s annual Health Innovation Awards. The achievement was then followed two days later with the £30,000 prize of the Imperial Enterprise Lab’s Venture Catalyst Challenge

Reflecting on these results, Luthfun and Anna said:

“It all feels pretty surreal and hasn’t sunk in yet. We’re both super excited for what the future holds,”

“We never expected to win one, let alone two. The prize funds will help us immensely with the research and development of building our full-sized device, which works by measuring a marker of inflammation, allowing pressure ulcers to be detected at an early stage. And the money will enable us to start our clinical testing and accelerate our progression. This has been a great experience and we’re extremely thankful.”

This sentiment was echoed by Professor Ian Weeks, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Cardiff University’s College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, who said:

“We are absolutely delighted for Luthfun, Anna and CalidiScope. Cardiff takes a proactive approach to clinical innovation, working closely with the NHS, staff and students to develop new ideas. Pressure sores are preventable, treatable and should never happen. The CalidiScope mattress topper will help to predict ulcers before they develop, monitor patient movement and automate documentation.”

The two wins are a massive achievement for the team, who now hope to develop a full-sized device to take into a hospital setting for testing. It is hoped this could mark a new era for pressure ulcer-care, thanks to the innovative partnership of Nessa and McGovern.


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