Medical Compression Research

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Dr Lisa Macintyre has been lecturing in Textile Technology, specialising in knitting technology and physical testing of textiles, since 1996. She’s also an active researcher and research supervisor and loves being able to combine teaching and doing medical textile research. Medical textiles includes a huge range of textiles from the filaments in kidney dialysis machines and sutures for stitching wounds together to surgeon’s gowns and even prosthetic devices like artificial arteries but my area of expertise is in medical compression products.

Lisa has worked for many years on ‘pressure garments’, used to treat hypertrophic scars that develop after very serious burn injuries. Hypertrophic scars are red, itchy, lumpy, painful scars that if left untreated are ugly and can cause physical deformity. When she first started working on pressure garments for hypertrophic burn scars, no-one really knew how they worked or how to optimise them. The work that she did established:

1. How hospitals in the UK made pressure garments at that time – this enabled her to design experiments that led to new knowledge.

2. That patients sometimes received too much or too little pressure depending on:

– their hospital
– the fabrics used to make pressure garments
– their body size

3. A new method of measuring the pressure exerted by pressure garments on the body.

4. A new design method for pressure garments that would enable pressure garments to exert known pressures on patient’s limbs.

Lisa has worked with a Masters’ student and two hospitals to develop a computer programme that will help them monitor treatment and then make pressure garments that exert the ideal pressure every time.

She has also worked on anti-embolism stockings as well. Anti-embolism stockings are used in hospitals world-wide to prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) which is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, most commonly in the legs. These stockings are fitted to patients before they have surgery or are immobile for a long time. Anti-embolism stockings work by applying particular pressures to people’s legs. This increases the blood flow back to the heart which stops it from clotting, or forming a thrombus. It is very important that the right pressures are applied in the right places or the stockings will not work and may even cause more harm than good.