Tookie, TechMed3D, and Sheffield Children’s Hospital Collaboration

Tuesday 18 February 2020

On Tuesday 18th February, NIHR CYP MedTech welcomed collaborators from Tookie Ltd, the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Sciences Network (YHAHSN), as well as representatives from TechMed3D, Quebec, Canada, to attempt the pioneering use of TechMed3D’s virtual body mapping technology, to scan an NHS patient with highly complex enteral nutrition needs, to obtain positional information regarding the patients various PEGs and devices on his torso. The aim of this, to provide Tookie with the necessary positional information required to produce a bespoke Tookie garment, which would secure the patients devices, preventing the him from pulling, scratching and removing them, whilst giving the family peace of mind from recurrent hospital visits and associated complications. One of SCH’s Clinical Nurse Specialists in Nutrition, familiar with the patient and his family, was also on hand to provide support and guidance for the team.

Through partnership with NIHR CYP MedTech and the YHAHSN, Tookie have a long history of developing garments which secure central lines for NHS patients and in recent months, with help from the Gastroenterology team at SCH, have begun the initial stages of designing a range of garments which would fulfil the needs of patients with enteral devices and lines. NIHR CYP MedTech and Tookie recently hosted a PPI Focus group day, where parents of patients were invited to provide valuable feedback on the concept designs thus far. At this focus group, Stephen, Commercial Director of Tookie, was introduced to the parents of an SCH patient with highly complex enteral needs, who also has autism. The parents discussed at length with Stephen how this combination of factors had often led to frustrations for their son, due to the amount of devices on his torso, indicating that he frequently scratches, tugs and pulls these out, due to lack of awareness of the consequences. These actions lead to recurrent skin infections, complications with treatment and an increased number of hospital visits, along with much worry and concern for their family. The parents provided feedback on the concept designs presented at the focus group and made the Tookie team aware that these designs simply would not suit their son’s personal, highly complex and specialised needs. The Tookie ethos of achieving “a life more normal” for the patients and families that they work with, therefore motivated the team to endeavour to produce a bespoke garment for the family; one that would suit all of the patient’s needs and give his parents true peace.

Tookie reached out to TechMed3D, pioneers in 3D virtual body mapping, who were visiting the UK recently to meet with various commercial partners to showcase their technology. They agreed to demonstrate this to our teams, visiting SCH to work with us to scan our patient. Obtaining the required positional information of PEG’s and devices on children with highly complex needs without this kind of technology is very difficult.  Attempting to find points of reference to measure the distances of the devices from one another on the child’s body, in real time and achieving accurate measurements poses many challenges and often involves much trial and error. TechMed3D’s technology resolves this problem neatly, using a specialised camera attached to an IPad to ‘scan’ an individual, feeding this information into their specially designed software to build up a real time, virtual representation of the body in 3-dimensions. Positioning algorithms then allow for easy annotation of the virtual body, to identify key distances between areas and points required, for any number of applications.

TechMed3D and Tookie gave a brief informal talk to our collaborators and parents of our patient, on how the technology works, its current applications, along with how their scans would allow the Tookie team to build a bespoke garment for their son. They then proceeded to scan our young patient, who was more than happy to pose for ‘photos’, thoroughly enjoying having his picture taken on any ordinary day; demonstrating the potential ease with which this technology could be used on children and young people with complex needs. Within less than 20 minutes, the team had produced a virtual map of the patients’ torso, clearly highlighting his various medical devices, with little to no distress to the patient, as there was no need to enter his personal space or physically touch him. All parties were thoroughly impressed with the results of the scan, including his parents, who particularly praised the ease of use of the technology.

The Tookie team will now use the output files from the virtual scan to design a Tookie garment which will secure the patients devices and suit his complex needs. Without TechMed3D’s technology, taking physical measurements would have been highly distressing to our patient and would likely need repeating several times, between trialling various iterations of sized garments, before the desired result could be achieved. The application of this technology, due to its accuracy in creating virtual body maps, will hopefully eliminate the need for repeat measurement s and the Tookie team can set about producing a garment that will suit our patient, first time around. Ultimately, having this garment will result in less hospitalisations for our patient and an increased sense of ease for his parents, that his devices are secure and free from his interference.

Innovative solutions to what can be everyday problems for many children, young people and their families who have complex needs and disorders, are only possible through collaborative efforts to develop and create new pathways for the implementation of MedTech solutions within the NHS. The effectiveness and importance of these new technologies can be life changing for patients and their families and therefore cannot be underestimated! On behalf of the patient and his family, NIHR CYP MedTech would therefore like to thank all parties involved for making this unique opportunity possible.

Next Steps

Next steps for this project will involve the Tookie team liaising closely with the family over the coming months, designing a bespoke garment and ensuring that it suits all of their needs, whilst gathering feedback from them, once they have had time to settle in and make good use of the garment. To keep up to date with future design evolutions and the projects progress, along with the impact this has on the patient and his family, follow NIHR CYP MedTech and Tookie on our social media channels.

Consent was given by the parents to feature in communications and media surrounding this event to help highlight the importance of developing innovative medical technology solutions for children and young people.