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Two awards for pressure ulcer-sensing mattress topper

30 March 2021

Luthfun Nessa and Anna McGovern
Luthfun Nessa and Anna McGovern

A Cardiff University medical student who created a pressure ulcer-sensing mattress topper has won two top innovation awards totalling £40,500 in just two days.

Luthfun Nessa, Cardiff School of Medicine, teamed up with Harvard University data scientist Anna McGovern to create CalidiScope – a mattress topper that integrates novel sensors and machine learning to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers.

First, Luthfun and Anna beat four other finalists to take the £10,000 prize fund in the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI)’s annual Health Innovation Awards.

Then, two days later, CalidiScope clinched Imperial Enterprise Lab’s Venture Catalyst Challenge, winning £30,000 plus the audience prize of £500.

“It all feels pretty surreal and hasn’t sunk in yet. We’re both super excited for what the future holds,” said Luthfun and Anna.

“We never expected to win one, let alone two. The prize funds will help us immensely with the research and development of building our full-sized device, which works by measuring a marker of inflammation, allowing pressure ulcers to be detected at an early stage. And the money will enable us to start our clinical testing and accelerate our progression. This has been a great experience and we’re extremely thankful.”

Pressure ulcers are injuries that happen to skin and underlying tissue. Most often caused by prolonged pressure, they can cut off the blood supply and often affect people confined to a bed or in a wheelchair for long periods. They are estimated to affect 4-10% of all people admitted to hospital in the UK and mean a two-to-four-fold increase in the risk of death in older people in intensive care units.

Professor Ian Weeks, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Cardiff University’s College of Biomedical and Life Sciences said: “We are absolutely delighted for Luthfun, Anna and CalidiScope. Cardiff takes a proactive approach to clinical innovation, working closely with the NHS, staff and students to develop new ideas. Pressure sores are preventable, treatable and should never happen. The CalidiScope mattress topper will help to predict ulcers before they develop, monitor patient movement and automate documentation.”

CalidiScope hopes to significantly improve the prevention strategy for patients at risk for developing a pressure ulcer by helping nurses to personalise patient care. Their technology will enable them to have further use cases for the early detection of pneumonia, sepsis and sleep monitoring which they are excited to explore in the future.

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