Urinary incontinence (UI) often influences whether a person can be managed at home or is admitted to a care home, where UI is managed through routine checks and toileting. Commonly, patients do not seek treatment for incontinence as it is not viewed as a legitimate medical condition; rather it is considered a normal part of ageing (Shaw and Brittain, 2007). However in dementia patients, incontinence has often been cited as the final straw that influences whether a person can be managed at home or admitted to institutional care (Thom, 1997). UI detection is critical since if undetected or resolved following checks; this can result in indiscriminate use of pads and unnecessary service referrals, ultimately inhibiting the promotion of continence and increasing the likelihood of disease. Increases in skin temperature and moisture from sweating or UI, can cause skin maceration, weakening the damaged skin making it more susceptible to poor healing and infection (Ferguson-Pell, et al., 2009). If a person cannot detect urinary leakage which could lead to changes related to early stages of skin damage maybe sensor technology could be of benefit (McCarthy, et al., 2009).
The study carried out at CTDRU examined current incontinence management methods for dementia patients in care homes and obtained carer views regarding the use of a sensor technology device to support current protocols. The outcome will inform the design of future devices and determine the perceived usefulness and likelihood of such devices being used in the monitoring of humidity and temperature changes as an indicator of incontinence. Sensor technology is also used to study the human body in the sitting position to understand its relationship to interface surfaces.
• Dey, Z.R, Nair, N.R., Shapcott, N. (2013) ‘Evaluation of the Force Sensing Application pressure mapping system’ Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology Vol. 37, No. 3 , Pages 213-219 (doi:10.3109/03091902.2013.765517) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23631523