A sub-epidermal moisture (SEM) scanner is now being trialled in America as a response to the global rise of pressure ulcers and the associated stress placed upon healthcare providers around the world. This scanner is designed to detect pressure ulcers before they are visible, by detecting the changes to moisture levels under localised areas of skin, using technology applied to the Mars rover.

Martin Burns, the CEO of LA based producer Bruin Biometrics, explains, ‘When you take a series of readings over the site that’s at risk for developing an ulcer, we can give you a calculation that says that patient has tissue that’s compromised,’

The scanner is a hand held device for use in all care settings where patients are identified as being at risk of developing a pressure ulcer, and records readings within a second – any reading above 0.6 is cause for concern. The device emits low amplitude signals from electrode structures that are placed on high risk areas of the skin, such as heels, buttocks and elbows. The result is that care practitioners can detect potential cases of pressure damage 4-10 days before the tissue damage is visible.

The SEM scanner is currently in use in the UK, Portugal, Spain and Canada and is reported to have reduced incidents of pressure ulcers from five percent to zero in some hospitals.