An ulcer is an open wound that remains unhealed, even after weeks of treatment. These types of wounds require a long process of treatment due to major underlying circulation problems. Having an unhealing, painful and often infected wound decreases patients' life quality significantly. During a treatment, which could last for months, patients experience a lot of emotional and physical challenges.
Deva is a design concept proposing the use of smart sensors in wound care treatment in a way that it will improve the communication between patients and nurses, by providing information and guidance.The ecosystem consists of smart dressing tags that will turn any wound dressing today into a "smart" one, an electrostimulation therapy sock and digital platforms where the information will be available.
How it works?
Disposable 3D printed dressing tags will include electrodes and will be placed on top of the wound. These electrodes will carry information from the wound bed to the sensors to process once it is connected to the wearable.The tag will be sticked on a regular wound dressing, and both will be placed on top the wound.The connection piece on the dressing tag will fit the wearable so the electrodes can connect the pcb, sensors and the battery. Data from the wound will be translated for the patients and nurses, available in two different digital platforms: Deva app for patients and Coloplast web platform for healthcare providers.
Healing is a natural process of the body, it is a natural feature that comes with being a living system.One of the most important factors in ulcer treatment is to make patients understand the "healing process" itself so that they can adapt and commit to the long and challenging journey ahead.For this project, the aim was to make healing visible and understandable to the patients and communicating the message that they can help their bodies and wounds to heal. Making the information available and translating the situation of their treatment in a simple way could improve this journey for many ulcer patients.
This project has been developed by interviewing nurses and wound care professionals from Turkey, Sweden, and Denmark.
I have started my research activities by talking to medical doctors, surgeons, nurses, nursing teachers, and ulcer patients. I had a chance to shadow a wound care nurse for a day when she was visiting all the patients. After talking to people who have different perspectives and pain points in a wound care journey, I identified the main insights and pain points. I have decided to focus on the needs and problems of nurses and patients. Both of these sides were going through several problems due to a lack of information. I have decided to provide them a tool, a translation of what is happening with the wound, and support their communication.
"Patients and caregivers should first understand that the whole treatment requires time and patience." Yurdagul Gurbuz, Wound Care Nurse, Turkey
"It's like being on a diet - you have to continue the treatment without knowing when or if the ulcer will be healed." Ulcer Patient, Turkey
Almost all of the projects available today offer disposable solutions such as single-use smart wound dressings. However, I decided to work on a different option that could work with the wound dressings that Coloplast and other producers already have, to be able to create a more sustainable and resource-efficient solution.
My initial concept direction included three elements: a wearable for the patient with the smart sensors to track wound condition, a digital platform for the nurses to follow each patient's situation, and an app for patients. I have made several prototypes considering the usage, ergonomics, and user experience. I have shared these prototypes with wound care nurses and their feedback helped me to understand the main issues with having a wearable in such context such as cleaning, charging, and comfort of the patients.
Using the nano-cellulose, disposable, 3D printed single tags can turn any wound dressing into a "smart" one, when it is connected to the wearable.To be able to track the wound condition will help nurses by reducing the need to remove or renew the wound dressing when it is not needed.The wearable also provides electrostimulation therapy, an affordable and easy to implement option as a treatment booster and that could also help with the pain relief.
At the end of the treatment, products will be sent back to Coloplast as the subscription ends. PCBs and batteries inside the wearable will be used again, decreasing the price and the waste.
For this project my aim was to work with a medical problem that also affects people's daily lives significantly. By bringing smart and humanized solutions to an area full of stigmas and problems, I want to challenge the norm of having an ulcer as it often makes patients socially isolated and depressed, creating a huge burden to live their normal lives for months or sometimes even years. From the technological point of view, the next step will be developing a working prototype for the dressing tags and the wearable to identify the possibilities and limitations.