Year/Course: 2010-2011, Lent 2011
Mentor: Marc Bax

Contact: Jerry Walker, St. Bartholomews Hospital, London and Dr Rachel Fallon, Sky Medical Technology Ltd
Mentors: Marc Bax, Panchromos and Rob Moir, Innovia Technology

The research team at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital has developed a small, battery-powered self adhesive device [weighing 16g] that attaches to the back of a person’s knee delivering current to a nerve situated just below the skin which branches below the knee to control calf and foot muscle contraction. The device is currently used in this way to reduce the risk of venous thrombosis (DVT) in orthopaedic patients and to improve venous circulation.

This OnPulse® Technology has been under development for over 4 years and has recently received formal CE marking approval allowing it to be used on patients and sold through international distributors. The commercial device combines the miniaturisation of technology and design ergonomics which allow it to be highly portable. Smart methods of attaching the device to the skin help to deliver current painlessly via the nerve, as opposed to directly into the muscle.

The inventors are now starting to investigate other applications for the OnPulse design which may lead to new device variants. For example, they are looking at whether OnPulse can be used safely at other sites on the body, and for other medical purposes. Possibilities might include rehabilitation of stroke and accident patients, muscle retraining and even assisting people with a variety of motor control disorders, as well as a wide range of veterinary uses.

The challenge for the i-Team is to understand the OnPulse technology design, investigate its possible alternative uses and recommend the most exciting areas for the researchers to develop next, helping them to design new generations of their invention.