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The issue of urinary incontinence

The widespread use of disposable incontinence pads has promoted a marked reduction in the use of indwelling catheters. Professor James Malone-Lee of University College,London said that if you walked into a geriatric ward or nursing home in the 1985's,// you would have been struck repelled even by the smell. Urinary incontinence is common among the very old, but it has not been a popular subject for medical research. Anyhow, much progress has been made and, in fact, an old people's ward need not smell at all.

Professor Malone-Lee and his team helped introduce the incontinence pad and, after many years of research into absorbent materials, have banged upon a synthetic polymer. The technology came from the disposable nappy now in very widespread use. But doctors were slow to accept that adults could or should wear nappies -instead, they resorted to indwelling catheters, which compounded the problem because they raise the risk of urinary tract infection (and it is infected urine that smells most). A well-designed incontinence pad should deal with the odour problem.

Professor Malone-Lee predicts in future that the development of even more sophisticated designs and high-tech materials for the manufacture of incontinence pads will increase. But it is unlikely that there would ever be a method of neutralising unpleasant smells from stale urine.


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