Tackling ageing continence through theory, tools and technology

The Bristol Urological Institute (BUI) BioMed has been part of a consortium working together on a £1.2 million project to find ways of reducing the impact of continence difficulties for older people.

This interdisciplinary project, entitled ‘Tackling Ageing Continence through Theory, Tools and Technology’ (TACT3), was led by the Brunel Institute for Bioengineering (BIBS) and funded by a Research Council New Dynamics of Ageing programme grant. The project started in November 2008 and has recently been completed.

The research was being carried out by teams at Brunel University, the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield, the University of the West of England and the BioMed at the BUI.

The project covered three key areas of continence research, with the role of the BUI-BioMed focussed on the development of two assistive technologies to make continence problems easier and less stressful to manage:

  • A colour change odour detector to reassure pad users by alerting them to the smell of stale urine before it can be detected by the human nose. The odour detector had a 90% response rate when tested in vitro and responded within 2 minutes of exposure to stale urine. Continence pad users were asked for their opinion on the design of the device, with 90% believing it was a good idea and 80% that it would be easy to use.
  • Smart underwear designed to detect a leak from a continence pad before the urine can spread to outer clothes or furniture. A clinical prototype was successfully developed and evaluated by continence pad users. Over 90% of participants who tested it thought the underwear would or might make them feel more confident and have a positive impact. Discussions with industry are in progress over the commercialisation of this product.