During her three decades as a nurse, Main Line Health’s Colleen Rogers has cared for diabetic patients too weak to lift their leg to allow her to change the dressing on foot or limb wounds by herself. The registered nurse wondered why there wasn’t a device to cradle the limb instead of having to find another nurse to hold it up.
For years she had a concept in mind for such a simple-to-operate, adjustable device. However, she never thought of herself as a potential inventor until 2019, when the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), part of Main Line Health, put out a call for ideas from frontline healthcare workers that could be advanced to prototyping and production to benefit patients. The effort to aid diabetes patients and caregivers was on.
“I was overjoyed to finally have somebody interested in it,” Rogers said. “We do so much wound care. For a person with diabetes or other conditions who’s not compromised, it’s hard to hold your leg up to let us dress the wound if you’re not fit, let alone if you’re sick and in a hospital bed, or even on a ventilator.”
Lankenau Ventures, a joint venture formed to accelerate development and commercialization of inventions conceived by those in the medical field like Rogers, has now licensed the invention and it is moving toward being prototyped. The joint venture includes LIMR; L2C Partners of Wynnewood, LIMR’s intellectual property manager; and Early Charm Ventures of Baltimore, a science-oriented invention studio that brings such new devices to market.
More than 34 million Americans, or 1 in 10, have diabetes. Approximately 15% of these individuals develop an open sore or wound called a diabetic foot ulcer, commonly located on the bottom of the foot, which is the result of nerve damage and poor blood flow that can accompany the disease.
Diabetes is the leading cause of lower extremity amputations in the United States not caused by trauma. An estimated 14-24% of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer have an amputation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research, however, has shown that the development of a foot ulcer is preventable with proper wound care.
A variety of limb support devices are on the market to assist with patients with diabetes and other conditions with wound care, but some are bulky and not easily maneuverable, and others are intricate and expensive. Some have to be affixed to the hospital bed.
The Rogers Limb Support Device is height- and position-adjustable, allowing any limb to be comfortably supported. Its mobile base can slide underneath a bed, easing use in tight spaces like a patient room. It is also lightweight and mobile. A patent application has been filed for the device.
“This is exactly the kind of practical, smart concept that we were looking for when we asked nurses to provide their ideas for new inventions,” said George Prendergast, President and CEO of LIMR. “Patients and caregivers stand to benefit, and I believe hospitals and other medical facilities will be eager to put it to use.”
The United States has over 5,000 hospitals, of which 420 are long-term acute care hospitals—all sites where the device could be used. The nation also has 15,600 nursing homes with 1.7 million licensed beds. The global wound care market is projected to reach $22 billion by 2025.
This device would allow healthcare facilities to save on personnel and cost by reducing the number of occasions when two caregivers would be required to attend to a patient instead of one.
The device is just one front where LIMR is making advances against diabetes. LIMR scientists recently were awarded a three-year, $1.67 million grant to study a molecule that may be key to preventing life-threatening diabetes complications including kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke.
Across its health system, Main Line Health focuses on nursing quality. It twice has received the System Magnet® designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation's highest recognition of excellence in nursing care, awarded to only 8 percent of hospitals overall. Main Line Health officials consider her an exemplary example of their nursing staff.
“I was so happy when my manager at Bryn Mawr Rehab, Nick Caines, connected me with Merle Gilmore of L2C Partners,” Rogers said. “This was an idea in the back of my head, and now I have people working on this to help nurses and patients.”
See here to view the full list of LIMR-developed IP and technologies available for licensing posted on the LIMR website.
About L2C Partners:
L2C Partners, founded in 2015 by Merle Gilmore, provides outsourced technology transfer and commercialization services in the pharma, bioscience and tech categories for educational institutions and research centers.
About Early Charm:
Early Charm is a venture studio based in the Charm City (Baltimore) that creates, owns and operates companies in four different industry verticals: Advanced Materials, Drug Discovery, AG Tech and Engineered Products. Early Charm continuously engages with industry to identify current market needs. Once those market needs are assessed, we source cutting-edge technologies that fulfill those needs and develop and commercialize the resulting products and services.