Jewelry, socks ease diabetes and arthritis pain

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."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Students' Pill Pal, HugGloves to assist the elderly

Dec 14, 2010

Gloves to help relieve arthritic pain and battery-operated shoes to keep feet warm and stimulated are examples of high-tech products that students designed this semester to help the elderly and people with ...

Student creates clothes that trap harmful gases

Apr 13, 2011

( -- A new Cornell cloth that can selectively trap noxious gases and odors has been fashioned by a senior into a mask and hooded shirts inspired by the military.

Virtual rehabilitation suite for arthritis patients

Oct 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 ...

Recommended for you

M-MDSCs shut down arthritis in mouse model of the disease

4 hours ago

Using a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis, scientists have discovered that a form of cellular immunotherapy by intravenous administration of monocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells, or M-MDSCs, might be an effective ...

Osteoarthritis patients will benefit from jumping exercise

Feb 18, 2015

Progressive high-impact training improved the patellar cartilage quality of the postmenopausal women who may be at risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) as well as at risk of osteoarthritis. This was found out in the study carry ...

Use of nondrug, nonsurgical options low in hip, knee OA

Feb 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—Usage of nondrug, nonoperative interventions in community-dwelling individuals with hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) is low, according to research published in the February issue of Arthritis Ca ...

Prevalence of fibromyalgia varies with criteria applied

Feb 13, 2015

(HealthDay)—The prevalence of fibromyalgia varies with the different sets of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria, according to a study published in the February issue of Arthritis & ...

User comments

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.