Paralympians who compete in international athletic competitions no longer need to worry about not being able to feel serious and life threatening injuries that could result in bleeding to death. A group of students from London’s Imperial College and The Royal College of Art have teamed up to create Bruise pants. These specially designed pair of pants uses pressure-sensitive film and dye packs to help athletes who can’t feel pain see where they have been injured.
With special pressure-sensitive film developed by Fuji, the designers sewed the film inside pockets which were then stitched over common injury sites, in sweat-wicking Lycra leggings. If any injuries or impact occurs in those areas, a red stain similar to blood seeps through the cloth letting the paralympian know they’ve been hurt. The more vivid the intensity of the color, the stronger the impact. In the event it turns a dark magenta, that means they’ve suffered a serious injury and it’s time to stop and find the medics.
The students tested the film by wrapping some over animal bones and exposing them to repeated blows. Their tests and trials resulted in the present prototype, which is especially useful for athletes who play wheelchair basketball, sit skiing and motor racing In the future, the developers hope to make a full suit that will be more useful for other sports — even ones played by able-bodied athletes.
Students Lucy Jung, Elena Dieckmann, Dan Garrett, and Ming Kong from the Imperial College of London and the Royal College of Art were inspired to design the sports pants after a talk given by Paralympian skier Talan Skeels-Piggins at the Imperial College.
In a recent article by CNET, The students were quoted as saying, “We were really inspired by what Talan had to say about competing in sport and it was great to hear about his experiences. Offhandedly, he remarked about not being able to feel his injuries after competing in high impact sporting events and it prompted us to look more into this area,” Jung said.
“We found that many sportspeople often don’t realise that they’ve injured themselves because they can’t feel anything, which could have serious health implications. We hope in the future that our trousers will be used by athletes to better monitor their health and well-being.”
The pants are just the first step. The team would like to develop the concept into a full bruise suit, and then into a product line that could be used by any able-bodied athlete involved in activity where blunt force trauma could cause injury. Athletes are renowned for going through the pain barrier, and that also includes training with fractured bones that could either fail catastrophically or cause long term damage to the athlete.