Researchers from two institutions are developing a healing glove that delivers needed medicine to an injured hand and speeds up healing so that rehabilitation can start sooner, according to a news release.
Hand surgeon Christopher Allan, MD, of the University of Washington, Seattle, and Muthu Wijesundara, PhD, of the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute have received $117,959 from the UW Coulter Translational Research Partnership to support research and development of the Bioengineered Smart-Glove for Regenerative Healing of Extremity Trauma.
The device is a flexible polymeric glove wound dressing intended for treatment after hand trauma. The UT Arlington Research Institute will develop the glove and associated controls while the University of Washington will conduct a small pilot study, according to the release.
Because the human hand is complex, recovery can be challenging. Existing medical technology falls short in supporting hand restoration after traumatic injuries and burns because it can leave significant scar formation and stiffness, according to the release. The University of Washington and the UT Arlington Research Institute hope to improve treatment with their new device, named the REHEAL Glove.
The current practice of treating hand injuries completely immobilizes the hand which delays rehabilitation exercises and reduces the recovered dexterity. Also, the dressing must be changed frequently to examine the wound and apply medicine. This process can be extremely painful to patients, especially those with burn wounds.
Provides negative pressure wound therapy
The REHEAL Glove not only has the capability of providing negative pressure wound therapy, but it also provides a way to deliver therapeutics and control the wound environment for better and faster healing, the release said. These abilities allow the glove to deliver topical gels and creams, wash the wound and remove fluids.
The glove can be easily applied and removed and does not adhere to the wound, which avoids painful removal. The glove is made of transparent silicone, allowing for continuous monitoring of the wound. The REHEAL Glove also allows greater mobilization of the hand in the earlier phases of wound healing, which accelerates the rehab process.
“What makes the REHEAL glove such an exciting concept is that it is a relatively simple device that enables many therapeutic approaches — which we already know are effective — to be delivered through one platform,” Wijesundara said in the release.
Connection to the world
Hand injuries can be some of the most challenging to treat, according to Allan.
“Hands are our connection to the world around us,” Allan said in the release. “Estimates are that up to a third of all ER injury visits involve the upper extremity, with injuries to the hand among the most challenging due to its complex anatomy and intricate structure and function. The REHEAL Glove offers a chance to better preserve and restore that connection by maintaining hand function while improving healing in the most severe of hand injuries. We are delighted to partner with UTARI in this exciting and important work.”