'Data' glove aid to arthritis care
An innovative arthritis glove measuring hand movement could lead to more effective treatment of the debilitating condition, the University of Ulster said.
The Tyndall data glove will have rotation sensors on the thumb, finger tips and joints, and monitor motion of the hands to allow detailed observations.
University academic Dr Kevin Curran said: "If patients are to receive the care needed to manage their condition and doctors the time to assess their condition thoroughly, more accurate and less laborious methods to record joint movements are needed.
"Measurement of joint range is used to establish a baseline and to record progress but this requires exhaustive personal examination and can be very labour intensive.
"Current measurement techniques are either invasive like X rays or have an over reliance on manual evaluation, such as vision and touch, both of which are very dependent on training and experience and results can vary widely between observers."
Around 400,000 adults in the UK suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, a painful condition which limits movement in the finger, wrist, knee and elbow joints. Approximately 20,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
One in seven patients give up work within a year of diagnosis and four in 10 lose their jobs within five years, the university said.
PhD researcher James Connolly said: "Data gloves have been used before to measure joint movements but they were not fitted with sufficient sensors on each finger and deformities and swollen joints caused the sensors to record inaccurate readings.
"The bespoke glove we are developing with Tyndall (National Institute in Cork) will give more precise and detailed readings."
The Western Health Trust and the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital are also involved in the research.