Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Arthritis: This 10p Patch Will Save Sufferers Years Of Pain


The easy-to-wear “smart patch” will save sufferers from years of pain by early detection of the crippling disease.

It is also poised to save the hard-pressed NHS tens of millions of pounds. Diagnosing arthritis before it fully develops will allow the early use of crucial preventative treatments and pain-killing techniques.

The disposable device uses acoustic sensors similar to those built into jet wings to detect structural damage.

They can “hear” subsonic cracking sounds in knees and other joints. Although still in the early stages of development, academics at Cardiff University believe it will be a game-changer.

“It has huge potential to change the way we diagnose osteoarthritis,” said Dr Davide Crivelli, of the School of Engineering at the university.

He explained: “If we’re able to link the sound signature of a healthy knee and a knee with disease, we will be able to lower the costs on society a lot.”

Dr Crivelli said he hoped the patches could be made for around 10p each.

They would be used in GP surgeries before going on mass sale, with the possibility they may one day also being used in a smart phone app.

Dr Crivelli added: “The acoustic sensor listens for cracking or rubbing sounds that your joint makes.

“If you have early stage osteoarthritis, you may have cartilage damage, which will have a specific sound signature.

“These sounds are at high frequencies which we can’t hear, hence the use of specialised acoustic emission sensors “We normally use them in aerospace to listen for cracking sounds from damage.”

The thin electronic patches are likely to be no more than an inch-and-a-half wide and will be worn on the joint, attached with Velcro.

News of the planned new patch was last night welcomed by charities and research bodies.

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: “Around 4.71 million people in the UK live with knee osteoarthritis.

“It can affect a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks such as walking, dressing and climbing stairs.

“Early diagnosis is very important and so we will be looking at the results to see how it could improve the lives of people with osteoarthritis.

“With early intervention people can begin self-management, such as exercise before irreversible damage to the joint has occurred and hopefully delay the need for surgery.

“However, it is important to note that diagnosis is only one element of someone’s journey.

“For example, people living with arthritis often need better ways to manage the pain.

“There is an urgent need to fund more research.”


Professor Cathy Holt, director of expertise in musculoskeletal biomechanics at Cardiff University, said: “Once most people have got joint pain, it’s too late, they have the disease already – whereas, there might be points where we can intervene earlier.

“So, the holy grail really is some sort of screening tool.

“An early and reliable detection system for osteoarthritis has clear potential to save large amounts of money on expensive diagnostic tools, such as X-ray and greatly improve the lifestyle and health of patients.”

The patches are still being developed at Cardiff University before clinical trials take place.

After further tests on prototypes, the team hopes they could be commercially available to the public within seven to 10 years.

Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage in the joints wears out faster than it can be replaced, leading to pain, inflammation and damage to the bones of the joint.



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.