Title : Advancing infection control and pressure ulcer prevention: Developing an innovative antibacterial pajama with dual benefits
Pressure ulcers (PUs) are characterized as localized defects in the skin or underlying soft tissue caused by shear, friction, or prolonged and unrelieved pressure on bony prominences. They present a significant global health challenge, with prevalence rates ranging from 7% to 23% in Europe and higher rates observed in the USA (9% to 29%). Prevention and treatment strategies for PUs primarily focus on managing skin lesions to prevent their progression and mitigate inflammatory processes. Complications associated with PU development, such as chronic pain and cutaneous injuries, can lead to increased inflammation and a heightened risk of mortality. PUs are prone to polymicrobial infections, as they create a favourable environment for aggressive pathogenic agents near the wound site. This infection can be caused by colonies of microorganisms, including aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, as well as fungal organisms. It can be challenging to resolve when dealing with drug-resistant organisms.
Clinical manifestations of infected PUs may include symptoms such as erythema, purulent discharge, foul odour, and other adverse clinical outcomes. The composition of the cutaneous microbiome and the specific location of the PU contribute to the characteristics of the infection.
A consortium was established, bringing together academia (Nursing School of Coimbra and University of Minho), International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), and the textile industry (Impetus), aiming to develop intelligent garments for the prevention of pressure injuries and associated infection. Thus, a garment with a suitable design for bedridden individuals with reduced mobility was enhanced by using a breathable textile that promotes thermophysiological control of the skin’s microclimate and incorporating microparticles with antimicrobial properties and the potential for integrating pressure, relative humidity, and temperature sensing systems. The pajamas under development have been evaluated by different end users in the development process, having been recognized as a medical device that will be an asset in preventing the occurrence of pressure injuries and associated complications, namely infections. Thus, the application of smart clothing is expected to result in a decrease in the bacterial load, effectively mitigating the challenges associated with this clinical condition for the individuals who wear them. This innovative product will also make it possible to fill in the gaps in the health market.
• Explain how the audience will be able to use what they learn?
With the presentation of this work, it is possible to demonstrate the importance of technological advancements in the field and their connection to the care and therapeutic areas, as well as the importance of creating multidisciplinary teams in science for the development of a product. This research can serve as a foundation for other faculty members to expand their own research or teaching activities.
• How will this help the audience in their job?
Given the versatility of the developed product, it will facilitate task performance in providing care, whether it is by formal or informal caregivers. This device will not be specifically limited to healthcare units but will also be suitable for home environment. Therefore, it will be extremely useful for individuals who are bedridden and/or have reduced mobility, thanks to its adapted design for activities such as dressing/undressing, personal hygiene, and easy access to medical devices.
• Is this research that other faculty could use to expand their research or teaching?
This research would be of utmost importance in monitoring infections associated with pressure ulcers. According to the literature, it is known that pressure ulcers, being multifactorial, are typically associated with polymicrobial infections. Depending on the anatomical area, the establishment of research networks for mapping microbial species by anatomical regions would be crucial. Additionally, therapeutic strategies should also encompass drug-resistant species.