‘Smart’ mattress cover prevents bed sores

An ’intelligent’ mattress cover that prevents patients developing pressure ulcers or bed sores − a problem that currently costs the NHS more than £1bn a year − has been launched in Wales this week.

Bed sores occur on areas of the skin that are under pressure when a person has difficulty moving, is bedridden, unconscious, unable to sense pain or immobile.

The best way to prevent them is to move around or change position, thereby reducing or relieving the pressure on vulnerable areas of the body.

The Synidor system, developed by entrepreneur Frank Edwards with assistance from a number of Welsh universities and support from the Welsh Assembly Government, detects lack of movement in patients and alerts nursing staff.

It consists of a disposable mattress cover with a sensor linked to a visual and audio alarm unit that alerts medical staff if a patient is not moving regularly.

The alarm can also be preset and programmed to remind patients to move at regular intervals, or, if they are not able to move, a carer can intervene.

The system, which was initially trialled by the Sunderland NHS Trust, has been in development for several years and had support from the Assembly Government from the early feasibility stages via the Wales Innovators Network through to manufacturing.

Edwards worked closely with Dr Michael Clark, manager of the Welsh Wound Network and an expert in this field, and accessed the expertise at PDR (the National Centre for Product Design and Development Research) to develop the casing for the alarm unit, and Glamorgan University for assistance in designing the electronics for the system.