Hello and thank you for viewing another post! This is a more personal post, as the information accounts my younger brothers life with Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune disease that he’s been battling since a child; Now a teenager, he and my mother agreed to share their accounts of his life, in which wearable technology has greatly impacted.
The post is a two-part series exploring the FreeStyle Libre system and Omipod insulin management system, two pieces of wearable technology that help keep my brother alive; this post, looks at the FreeStyle Libre system and a follow-up post explores the Omnipod system, whilst concluding the lifestyle impact the wearable technologies have had.
The FreeStyle Libre Sensor
The FreeStyle Libre Sensor (FLS) is a blood glucose meter worn on the rear of the arm, in which a thin teflon filament under the skin regularly records the blood glucose level (BGL) of the user; furthermore, the FLS is scanned using the FreeStyle Libre Reader to immediately display the BGL of the user.
Prior to the FLS my brother would test his BGL with finger prick tests, which the below video demonstrates.
Finger prick tests were required upwards of eight times per day, with extreme cases of high or low BGL requiring tests every ten minutes for continual monitoring, thus causing significant damage to his finger tips; also, due to night-time finger prick tests disrupting his sleep patterns, this resulted in constant symptoms of tiredness.
Impact of the FreeStyle Libre Sensor
The FLS combines the individual components of the finger prick test into an all-in-one solution, enabling unlimited BGL readings, which can be scanned through clothing without bodily harm. My brother feels more confident taking BGL readings with the FLS, because of the ease of use and timeliness of readings; therefore, as an example, enabling him to scan his BGL whilst in the highschool lunch queue, instead of previously having to leave his friends and exit the queue, to find a table and take a finger prick test.
The FLS provides more accurate BGL readings than prick tests, which can include variables such as dirty finger tips or broken test strips, thus requiring another prick test; furthermore, my brother had sporadic high BGL for many years, resulting in permanent retina damage and liver bruising, but with the additional control and monitoring that the FLS provides, the root cause of high levels is better understood helping to reduce them.
Disruptive technologies lack refinement by nature, which is the case with the FLS due to some minor issues. The FLS becomes loose easily and cannot be reapplied, so additional products are required to prevent this, such as Skin-Tac adhesive; however, this causes skin irritation when removed.
The running costs of the system are expensive, as the FLS requires replacing every two weeks, or when prematurely removed, at a cost of £57.95; therefore, my brother has a monthly supply of four units as a contingency, with the additional Skin-Tac adhesive costing a further £25. The FLS or adhesive is not currently available on the U.K. NHS, but will be from the 1st November 2017; however, this is circumstantial, in which favouring those with greater clinical need.