A unique wrist orthosis created by researchers to enhance the lives of those affected by arthritis and wrist injuries has been licensed by an orthotics company.
The WristEaze was created by a team at the University of Strathclyde following extensive research on the effectiveness of existing wrist support devices on the market.
The researchers, who were supported by charity Versus Arthritis, following initial funding from The National Garden Scheme, identified that no device provided the necessary support required for those affected by rheumatological, musculoskeletal and neurological conditions.
After the significant research and development programme which delivered the innovative orthosis, the University has entered into a licence agreement with TalarMade, a UK company owned and managed by professionals from specialist fields including orthotics. Plans are in place to have the wrist-hand orthosis, which restricts painful wrist motion and positions the wrist to improve hand function and grip strength, on the market by autumn 2021.
During the design process of product development and evaluation, the research team consulted with end-users, and medical and healthcare professionals.
Strathclyde Senior Teaching Fellow in Biomedical Engineering Karyn Ross, who led the research and is herself an orthotist/prosthetist, said: “The development of this orthosis was directly informed by the identification and validation of an unmet clinical need.
“We conducted a UK survey in which people wearing current designs of wrist braces identified many limitations associated with their use. Most people indicated that they had to remove the brace when using their hand, as the design prevented their ability to carry out most tasks, found the braces hot to wear and easily soiled, and those with issues affecting both of their hands struggled to put the braces on and off independently, often using their teeth to undo straps.
“Our testing of existing wrist braces demonstrated that they do not adequately control wrist motion and negatively impact on hand function and grip strength.”
The WristEaze is designed to improve outcomes and quality of life of people with long-term and short-term medical conditions or injuries, while maintaining their independence. It enables people to continue day to day activities in both their personal and working lives, while addressing the design limitations of existing braces.
Karyn Ross added:
We think it will be life enhancing – even life changing for some people. It’s patient-centred and patient-focused and we’re thrilled to be collaborating with TalarMade, who have experience in partnering with academia to bring products to marketplace.”
Fellow researcher, Dr Alejandra Aranceta Garza, added: “Previously there has been no testing protocol for these types of devices to provide evidence to substantiate manufacturers claims regarding the effectiveness of wrist-hand orthoses.
“As well as alleviating wrist problems as a result of an underlying condition or injury, the brace could be used in the workplace or for those for those taking part in sporting activities such as snowboarding as a protective measure.”
The plan is to market the device across Europe and the US, and TalarMade CEO Ian Leddy, said: “TalarMade is delighted to be collaborating with Strathclyde on the WristEaze,
“There is increasing demand for unique solutions to meet gaps in the market for products that improve patient outcomes and we are excited to be bringing the WristEaze to market. Our recent partnership with Sheffield Hallam University and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has prepared us for this type of strategic partnership and demonstrate that strong links between academia and industry can and will lead to successful outcomes for patients.”
Dr Natalie Carter, Head of Research Engagement at Versus Arthritis, said: “We are proud to have supported both the research and development of the WristEaze, using the latest technology to help people with arthritis live a pain-free life. Our co-funded research found several issues with current wrist supports and identified a need for a new and effective product for people with hand and wrist problems.
“Arthritis can be both painful and limiting, but the WristEaze will help those living with the condition to maintain their independence and continue with daily activities, whilst restricting painful wrist motions to improve hand function and strength.”
The IP & Commercialisation team, within the University’s Innovation & Industry Engagement Directorate, supported the research team with the protection of intellectual property and dedicated commercialisation resources leading to the agreement with TalarMade.