The distressing symptom of the underactive bladder can seriously affect the quality of life. The solution found by the researchers with a technology that can monitor bladder volume in real-time and effectively empty the bladder will be a relief to the patients.
FREMONT, CA: Recently, a research team developed a soft sensor and an actuator to monitor the bladder and aid to empty it on-demand. This newly introduced technology is intended to be implanted on the bladder surface during the surgical procedure to treat patients who cannot empty their bladders voluntarily.
The researchers developed this technology by combining a soft and thin capacitive sensor. It is integrated with a shape memory alloy-based actuator to attain high-performance closed-loop configurations.
The individuals can suffer from an underactive bladder following a spinal cord injury. About 80 percent of the patients who suffer a spinal cord injury will show bladder dysfunction. At present, there is no cure for the underactive bladder condition. While some implantable treatment options are available, they can only sense the fullness of the bladder and empty it up to 43%. It is very upsetting as well as inconvenient for the patients and can also lead to several kinds of urinary tract infections.
The newly developed soft device integrating with the sensor helps to monitor the urine volumes in the bladder, and an actuator can apply gentle pressure to the bladder during the entire urination.
The particular sensor consists of a shape memory spring to ensure constant contact with the bladder surface, from which it can infer how full the bladder is.
The integration has previously halted the performance due to the significant bladder volume changes. The solutions thus discovered integrate the sensing-actuation elements to achieve real-time bladder management. The system contains a highly desirable voiding target of 71 to 100% of a rat's bladder with a volume sensitivity of 0.7 μF/liter. The systems represent an effective, avoiding solution that avoids overfilling. It also represents a technological solution to bladder impairment treatment, thereby serving as a model for similar soft sensor-actuator integration with other organs.