TickleFlex, an insulin injection aid invented by type-1 diabetic Peter Bailey of TickleTEC Ltd., is the winner of this year’s Horners Award for Design and Innovation. The winning entry was announced on the first day of the UK plastics trade show, Interplas, in Birmingham.
TickleFlex assists insulin-dependent diabetics who self-administer insulin. It fits onto existing needles and is designed to minimise both the pain of injection and the human error that sometimes occurs. Bailey, an engineer by training, was looking for a way to minimise the discomfort of hitting a nerve and to improve consistency. Also on his shopping list: finding a way to “steady my hand so that I could reach further around my body to inject in more places, without going in too deep or shearing the needle”, as he put it.
The TickleFlex uses specially textured flexing fingers to grip a small area of skin and control insertion depth, whilst pain is blocked by ‘saturating local sensory inputs’. The gripping action distracts the nerves, and masks the pain. The device also hides the needle as it breaks the skin, reducing stress for those who suffer from a fear of needles
The judge, including members of the Worshipful Company of Horners and the British Plastics Federation (BPF)s were impressed by how these features were combined to improve the everyday lives of those who need to self-administer insulin. Judging it to have the potential to make a positive difference in many people’s lives, they determined it to be an ‘innovative medical application of plastics’ versatility in solving a real-world issue’.
A second finalist Phytoponics received the BPF Award for their hydroponic system to grow food in less hospitable climates at less cost. The plastic hydroponics kit is the first of its kind to offer Deep Water Culture technology geared at the hectare scale, which should provide productive benefits to the commercial grower at a much lower cost than has previously been the case.