New research will benefit sufferers of leg ulcers

September 23, 2013

A prototype for a revolutionary camera that takes 360-degree images of leg ulcers has been designed by a PhD student at USW. If produced, it will be unique in the industry.

Garry Jackson, 42, from Neath, was awarded a PhD in July 2013 for his thesis ‘New Approaches to Lower Limb Wound Visual Assessment’. His work looked at new methods of taking digital images of wounds on the lower limb, such as leg ulcers.

Garry’s research was split in to three parts. The first two were about setting up data collection methods and protocols for research nurses.

Thousands of wound images were taken at the early stages of a 12-week study and then analysed to see if they could be related to the eventual clinical outcome.

The third area looked at developing methods of producing images of wounds that extend around the lower limb. “Often, wounds will develop around a limb, so many individual photographs need to be taken, said Garry. “However, clinicians need an instrument that goes around the limb and takes 360-degree images with a single button press.”

Methods were developed and tested using images gathered from a digital SLR camera. With a clear understanding of the problem, a specification for a novel new product was produced.

“The research is very important,” said Garry. “Early indicators taken from wound images allow a clinician to develop more effective treatment strategies. In some cases, this can make the difference between the wound healing and the patient making a fast recovery and treatment being ineffective and requiring further medical intervention.”

“What’s more, the images form part of the patient’s formal notes used by the clinicians for a progress comparison week to week.

“Ultimately sufferers of leg ulcers will benefit from this research, perhaps not immediately but the incremental advances in ways to describe the wound can be extended and evaluated by other groups which will lead to improved care strategies, improving prognosis for the sufferer.”

Garry, an electronic engineer who specialises in embedded systems and image processing technologies, was part of a multi-disciplinary at the University, lead by Professor Bob Williams.

“The enthusiasm and willingness to explore new directions and ideas of the team was invigorating,” said Garry.

“My view is that enthusiasm and interesting areas to research are essential to attracting and retaining young researchers. I was fortunate to have this, and to be surrounded by very senior members of the University, who provided nothing but patience, encouragement, enthusiasm and pragmatism.”

“I would like to see the work extended into product development to create a simple-to-use instrument for clinicians working with wounds.”

Tagged: Medical Imaging News