Developing a device to monitor arthritis flare ups at home

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr David Gibson

Organisation - Ulster University

Type of grant - Medical Technologies

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £96,246.76

Start date - 1 April 2021

Reference - 22703

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to develop a way to detect and monitor arthritis flare ups outside of a clinic setting. This involves the development of a mobile phone application and a blood collection device that people can use at home to take and submit their own samples.

Why is this research important?

Many musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis are characterised by flare ups, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints. Flare ups are often experienced as a sudden increase in pain and a decrease in physical function due to discomfort. It is important for doctors to assess and identify flare ups accurately as they often indicate a need in treatment change.

Most flare ups occur at home and not in the clinic and there are currently very few reliable methods of assessing flare ups as they happen at home. This device aims to provide a way to safely and reliably collect blood samples whilst the person is at home, which are then sent for analysis so the doctor can check for signs off a flare up in the blood. This is important considering the move to less face-to-face appointments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How will the findings benefit the patients?

This research aims to develop a reliable and safe method to measure flare ups at home experienced by people with musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. It’s hoped this will empower people to self-manage their condition, decrease the need for hospital visits and to measure flare ups more conveniently at the person's home. This will reduce healthcare service costs and demands on medical resources as well as reducing the need for people with immune conditions to attend face-to-face appointments.