LUT developing a disposable patient transfer sheet – product to be commercialised

The LUT has taken part in the development of a hygienic, disposable material intended for transfer and carrying of patients.  The material is now at its commercialisation stage, and it is especially timely as e.g. the Ebola epidemic is on the rise.

The material's development work has been coordinated by the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences (Kyamk).  In October 2014, Kyamk transferred the intellectual property rights for the transfer material invention to Kotka-based LiftaidMed Oy. LiftaidMed's mission is to export ecological fibre-based products to the international market.

LUT participates in material development

The characteristics of fibre and plastic-based materials were combined into a functional entity in the transfer sheet. LUT primarily focused on the research of wood fibre-based materials.

An aspect that proved especially challenging was developing a material that absorbed bodily fluids, as there was a very limited supply of previous publications on the issue.  

"For example, urine contains an abundance of salt, and the absorbency of normal absorbent materials suffers due to the saltiness. During testing, we managed to get the material to theoretically absorb a maximum of approximately 2 litres of bodily fluids," LUT Junior Researchers Sami-Seppo Ovaska and Katriina Mielonen explain.

The fluids the absorbency of which were compared during the research included water, bovine blood and artificial urine. Additionally, LUT carried out research of wet strength.

The sheet is a more hygienic option than traditional protective fabrics, as it breaks the chain of infection and after use the product can be destroyed by burning with energy waste.

The sheet is suited for transfer of patients in the operating room, and during emergency medicine and rescue services.  The transfer sheet can carry a maximum weight of 200 kg, and it can withstand dragging on sand and ice. The best possible benefit of the transfer material is in crisis management activities, in which there are an abundance of patients.

New frontiers

The transfer sheet was invented in 2010−2011 as part of the KopTeri project, in which numerous wood fibre-based healthcare and medical products were developed. The purpose of the project was to compensate for the decline in Finland's paper industry. Of the new products for lifting and carrying patients, the transfer sheet has progressed the furthest in product development. The project offered researchers a new frontier for applied research.

"Developing something that is so related to human senses, such as ensuring the surface of the material felt comfortable against the skin, added its own interesting challenges to the research, Additionally, the research included a questionnaire for healthcare workers, and we had them test out the product.  Traditional paper production and methods of measurement used in paper technology were given brand new dimensions," Ovaska says.

A total of six people made up the team that invented the transfer sheet; they are all Kyamk and LUT staff/students. If the product gains a worldwide market, Kyamk will receive income for commercialisation and will then release an agreed upon portion as income to the inventors.