Current and Recent Research

Skin Health and Incontinence

Funding Body: SCA Hygiene, Sweden

The aim of this project is to develop some standard methodologies for two measurements of skin health, Trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), measured using an Evaporimeter and Stick and Slip friction (measured using a Tensometer). During this project data will be gathered under controlled conditions in order to establish the repeatability of measurements. We are refining this method in order to measure the level of skin hydration following skin occlusion, typically after the use of nappies and incontinence pads. This will assist with the testing and development of improved continence products.

Contact researchers: Sinead Clarke-O'Neill, Alan Cottenden

The physics of wet skin

Funding body: SCA Hygiene, Sweden
Timetable: October 2004 - October 2007

The purpose of this project - which is jointly funded by SCA Hygiene and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council - is to study the physics of skin made continually wet by wearing incontinence pads. In particular, methods will be developed and used to measure skin wetness and skin friction and to build mathematical models that describe the interactions between skin, urine and pad materials.

Contact researchers: Rebecca Wong, Alan Cottenden

An investigation into the relationship between absorbent pads and pressure management products

Funding Body: Smith and Nephew Foundation
Timetable: January 2004-December 2007

This project is being carried out as part of Doctoral Nursing Research Studentship awarded by the Smith and Nephew Foundation. This project will focus on skin health and incontinence, specifically the interaction between pressure management products and absorbent pads for managing incontinence. The project consists of three main sections: i) A survey of nursing staff to identify and explore current nursing practices related to pressure. ii) Laboratory testing of a wide range of the pads/features/materials that are currently available on the UK market to identify the optimum products. Iii) A clinical feasibility study comparing a standard pad with an optimum pad.

Contact researchers: Sinead Clarke-O'Neill, Mandy Fader

Upgrading the CSTG laboratory

Funding body: The Clothworkers' Foundation and the Dunhill Medical Trust
Timetable: October 2003 - October 2005

Through generous donations from The Clothworkers' Foundation and the Dunhill Medical Trust, purchases of new equipment have been made and the equipment is in process of being commissioned and its capabilities explored. Major purchases include: a TRI autoporosimeter (for measuring the capillary pressure / saturation characteristic of fabrics); a Kruss dynamic contact angle analyser (for measuring the interactions between fibres and fluids); a Leica microscopy and image analysis suite (for studying the microstrucure of fabrics); various fluid mechanics software packages (for modelling the spread of fluid through absorbent / porous materials); and an AquaFlux device (for measuring water vapour flux from skin).

Contact researcher: Mark Landeryou, Alan Cottenden

Absorbent products for urinary/faecal incontinence: A comparative evaluation of key product groups

Funding body: Health Technology Assessment Programme
Timetable: April 2003 - March 2006

This is a collaborative study with Southampton University and the University of Surrey. The aim of this study is to compare the performance and cost-effectiveness of the key absorbent product categories for the containment of urinary and/or faecal incontinence. The project consists of 3 main modules (i) to compare the main groups of disposable designs for moderate/heavy incontinence, when used by individuals and carers in residential settings. (ii) to compare he main groups of disposable and reusable designs for moderate/heavy incontinence when used by individuals living in the community. (iii) to compare the main groups of disposable and reusable designs: when used by women living in the community. 80 participants are being recruited for each module.

Contact researchers: Nick Green, Sinead Clarke-O'Neill, Mandy Fader

The development of a non-invasive continence management system (NICMS)

Funding body: European Union (Framework 5 grant)
Timetable: January 2003-December 2006

This is a collaborative project being led by Brunel University in conjunction with Loughborough University and Medical Device Management, in the UK. Several partner countries are also collaborating in the clinical testing of the product namely: Sweden, Poland, Israel, France and the Netherlands. The project is being funded by an EU framework 5 grant 'Coping with the functional limitations of old age'.

The aim of the project is to continue the development a product designed to help those individuals with a continence problem. The device is called a 'non-invasive continence management system' and it allows a user to pass urine into it and then actively draws the urine away into a storage system, it will assist people who are incontinent or who have restricted mobility and have difficulties accessing the toilet. The Continence Technology Group, UCL are participating in both laboratory tests and development and the preliminary clinical testing of the product.

Contact researchers: Margaret Macaulay, Sinead Clarke-O'Neill, Yu Xu, Alan Cottenden

A multi-centre evaluation of absorbent products for men with dribble incontinence

Funding body: Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
Timetable: January 2003 - December 2004

This study will be comparing four different designs of absorbent products for men who have problems with post micturition dribble or very light incontinence. Comparisons will also be made between the products within the groups to find out strengths and limitations of the individual products. The design is a randomised cross-over design and the primary outcome measure is the response to the overall opinion question from the performance questionnaires. Secondary outcome measure is leakage performance as recorded in the pad weight and leakage diary. 80 subjects will be recruited to the study and the data collection is going to start in October.

Contact researchers: Margaret Macaulay, Mandy Fader

Urinary incontinence and skin health: An investigation into the effects of absorbent and topical products on skin hydration and pressure distribution.

Funding body: Smith and Nephew Foundation
Timetable: June 2002 - March 2005

This study consists of 5 modules and aims to (i) develop and refine methodologies for measuring skin hydration; (ii) determine the impact on skin hydration of a range of different absorbent products under standardised controlled conditions (iii) measure the ability of different topical skin barrier products to reduce skin hydration (iv) measure the effects of different topical skin barrier products on the leakage performance of continence pads (v) determine the effects of absorbent continence products on the pressure distribution properties of different pressure management products.

Contact researcher: Mandy Fader

Development of a new predictive tool for redesigning incontinence bedpads

Funding body: EPSRC
Timetable: November 2001 - November 2005-12-15

Estimated duration of Richards' equation - generally used to model moisture movement within rocks and soil - have been applied to the problem of absorption by fibrous materials. This required measuring the bulk liquid transport properties of the absorbent materials, for which new apparatus and the adaptation of existing methods was needed. Numerical calculations were tested by developing analytical results. Experimental measurements of moisture distribution were made using and refining a number of techniques. The method was validated experimentally for fibrous absorbent pads by comparing predictions with laboratory measurements of infiltration in all key cases (one and two-dimensional spreading dominated by gravity, capillary action and flux sources). The validated model was applied to the more complex situations of curved inhomogeneous absorbents.

By predicting liquid infiltration into a pad on an anatomically representative curved surface, the principle mechanisms for leakage in small pads were identified. An important outcome from this work is the use of the liquid transport properties as they relate to fluid distribution in an absorbent. These insights were used to design new absorbent core materials.

The findings from the work and the experimental methods used have been / are being reported at conferences and in papers to reach an audience including: textile technologists and manufacturers, academics involved in porous flow, and researchers and technologists producing absorbent products for incontinence.

Contact researcher: Mark Landeryou, Alan Cottenden

A trial of intravesical atropine for detrusor hyperreflexia in multiple sclerosis

Funding body: Multiple Sclerosis Society
Timetable: April 2000 - March 2004

The aim of this project is to compare the efficacy of intravesical atropine with oral oxybutynin. This is an equivalence study using a randomised cross-over design. The primary outcome measure is mean voided volume as recorded by bladder diaries. Secondary outcome measures, are side-effects, frequency of micturition and incontinence and a quality of life score. 80 participants are being recruited with a diagnosis of MS, carrying out intermittent catheterisation and who have experienced benefit on oral anticholinergic therapy.

Contact researchers: Mandy Fader