Jewelry, socks ease diabetes and arthritis pain

December 13, 2013 by Sarah Cutler
Jewelry, socks ease diabetes and arthritis pain
Alix Cantor '14 describes a textile used in the SensaSock garment. Credit: Jason Koski/University Photography

(Medical Xpress)—For the 1.5 million Americans – most of them women – who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, swollen, painful knuckles and wrists are part of daily life. But a team of Cornell undergraduates has a solution: a line of anti-inflammatory jewelry to make such chronic aches and swelling a thing of the past.

The idea for these bracelets, rings and midi-rings, made of a heat-absorbent textile that reduces joint swelling and , are four students' final project in their Textiles, Apparel and Innovation course in the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design. Taught by associate professor Juan Hinestroza in the College of Human Ecology, the course requires students to develop product ideas – with feedback from local citizens – for functional apparel to help the elderly and other populations living with the daily discomfort of diabetes and arthritis.

Because most women who suffer from are between 30 and 50 – in their prime working years and active in their daily lives – the students aimed to create an aesthetically pleasing medical solution that could be disguised as everyday jewelry and wouldn't make the wearer feel self-conscious.

"We wanted to create more of a fashion accessory than a medical product, something that wasn't embarrassing to wear," said Samantha Dichter '14, one of the students who designed the jewelry.

Another group reinvented bulky leg braces with a sleeker alternative, called "BraceYourself," which uses heel cushions and simple supports to decrease pressure on the knees and reduce the pain of osteoarthritis. The brace also provides heat around the knee joint to alleviate soreness and, like the jewelry, does not draw extra attention.

Other innovations from the course include gloves to alleviate pain and improve dexterity in arthritic fingers and SensaSock, an antibacterial and antifungal bootie for diabetics that uses tiny ultrasound sensors to monitor real-time blood flow through the wearer's legs and feet.

Each year, Hinestroza teaches students about ailments that millions live with, especially senior citizens coping with chronic pain. His students research the characteristics of a different disease and develop a product or item of apparel that helps people function better. The class was aided by David Feathers, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis, who researches ergonomics and biomechanics.

"The class is about finding ways to make life easier" for people suffering from pain, said Rebecca Dugal '14. "Professor Hinestroza makes inventing accessible," she added. "It's often viewed as an eccentric thing to do, but he brings it down to a place where it's just problem-solving."

Hinestroza said that several teams intend to file patents for their inventions and will explore bringing them to the market.

"The goal is for the students to learn new materials and new technologies, and to use that knowledge to improve people's quality of life. At the same time as you learn, you gain an understanding of aging and pain," Hinestroza said. "My students did a fantastic job, and I'm very proud of them."

Explore further: Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps fail to help rheumatoid arthritis, research says

Related Stories

Virtual rehabilitation suite for arthritis patients

October 11, 2013

A new research project led by the University's Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre is using technology normally associated with Hollywood blockbusters to help tackle arthritis. Funded by Arthritis ...

Osteoarthritis medicine delivered on-demand

November 6, 2013

Scientists are reporting development of a squishy gel that when compressed—like at a painful knee joint—releases anti-inflammatory medicine. The new material could someday deliver medications when and where osteoarthritis ...

Recommended for you

Team finds gene that confirms existence of psoriatic arthritis

February 5, 2015

PsA is a common form of inflammatory form of arthritis causing pain and stiffness in joints and tendons that can lead to joint damage. Nearly all patients with PsA also have skin psoriasis and, in many cases, the skin disease ...

Blocking one receptor could halt rheumatoid arthritis

September 10, 2014

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have shown for the first time how the activation of a receptor provokes the inflammation and bone degradation of rheumatoid arthritis—and that activation ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.