A unique and universal hand and wrist splint developed by an Occupational Therapist from Pontefract Hospital, aimed at helping patients with rheumatology related health conditions, has been recognised by a national Orthopaedics company for distribution.
Sue Phillips, an Occupational Therapist within the rheumatology team at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, identified a gap in the market for a splint that would deliver more flexibility, comfort and functional support for her patients with rheumatology related conditions at Pontefract and Pinderfields Hospitals.
Wrist and hand splints are provided to people who need protection and support for painful, swollen or weak joints and their surrounding structures. Functional splints are required to provide support and pain relief during activities. This improves confidence with grip and allows people to perform activities for longer and helps to protect joints.
The idea began almost ten years ago, when Sue decided to design a pattern to make a simple splint support for patients to wear, in place of other splints which were
proving uncomfortable and tricky to fit. She created the splint using the new design and a sewing machine donated by a former colleague.
The splint she designed is universal and one size fits all. This has reduced the need for Occupational Therapists to keep a large range of different sized splints in storage. These universal splints are currently being manufactured in house by staff within the Splinting room of the Therapy Department at Pontefract Hospital.
The splint has been used by Occupational Therapists within the Hospitals and in the Community as well as by Neuro-Physiotherapists for the last four years and received positive feedback from patients.
An audit even revealed the splint provided better compliance than those found on the general UK market.
Sue recently began to explore the opportunity for income generation from her splint design with the idea to reinvest money into the service to provide more equipment for patients. She also wanted other therapists and patients to have access to the splint so that they have another alternative to use. Sue contacted Commercial organisations in the hope that they could sell the splint and pay commission for products sold.
Sue was supported by the Trust’s Research and Innovation team to realise the full potential of her idea to help make a significant and positive impact on the health economy nationally.
Knowing that there was positive feedback from therapists and patients, the design was registered and put in front of commercial partners with the help of Medipex, an organisation specialising in intellectual property rights and bringing to market new innovations in healthcare delivery.
Sue has recently signed a contract with Beagle Orthopaedic, a leading Orthopaedic company, who will manufacture and produce the splints, which will save a great deal of time and enable staff to have more time with their patients.
Andrew Padmore, Area Sales Manager, at Beagle Orthopaedic, said; “As a UK manufacturer of orthopaedic soft goods, we were delighted to invest and support Sue to provide a quality end product, that represented all the aspects which were important to her and in turn the patient.
“Our uniqueness within the industry means we know the value of working closely with clinicians to leverage their clinical knowledge and to turn them in to products to achieve optimum patient outcomes. Our Customer Service and Sales component will complement the product, promoting the brace into existing channels across the whole of the UK and Eire to the many clinicians who treat similar patients that will benefit from a product of this quality.”
Occupational Therapist, Sue Phillips, said: “I truly believe that this is a valuable product in providing comfortable yet efficient support for patients with rheumatology related conditions in their hands. We want to do everything we can to help our patients. I’ve continued to work closely with our product innovation team and can’t wait to finalise our contract to distribute these nationally so that more patients and therapists can gain access to them.”
Deirdre Linnane, Head of Therapy Services, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said; “The splint Sue has designed has helped empower sufferers of rheumatology related conditions, to provide much needed support for their hands, as well as being comfortable and easy to wear. The design of these splints enables them to lead independent lives, and feel more comfortable which makes a real difference to them on a day to day basis. We are extremely proud of Sue and her team who have helped to roll out this new product to help more and more patients.”
The Trust’s research and innovation team has a network of clinical and commercial partners to support the transition of a good idea into a viable commercial product.