Timely replacement of soiled diapers is a challenge for caregivers of elderly and bedridden patients who are unable to communicate this need, such as those who suffer from aphasia, the loss of speech after a stroke or brain injury. For such patients, diapers could soon come with a sensor that alerts caregivers by SMS when they are soiled.
Researchers from Singapore have developed an intelligent continence management system comprising of a thin disposable sensor strip, a compact wireless transmitter, a receiver and software. Lead researcher Jackie Ying, executive director, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) at The Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore (A*STAR) said, "Lying in soiled diapers for prolonged periods is not only uncomfortable and unhygienic, but may also cause skin rashes and infection for the wearer. While increasing the frequency of diaper checks and changes may help to reduce this problem, it would also add to the workload of caregivers. Clearly, there is a need for an alternative solution."
This new sensor can be easily integrated into the adult diapers currently available in the market to facilitate timely diaper change. It comes in the form of a thin, lightweight strip of metal, plastic and paper. This inexpensive strip can be embedded in the diaper and it can be disposed easily after use. The wireless transmitter, which has to be connected to the sensor, can be easily attached and removed for reuse. The wetness level in the diaper is tracked via the sensor, and once the diaper wetness reaches a predetermined level, the sensor will transmit a signal wirelessly to the caregivers using their preferred interface such as SMS. This will prompt the caregiver to change the patient's diaper.