A new technology developed by researchers from Southampton University could help to relieve pain and discomfort for thousands of amputees.

The pressure sensor, labelled a ‘second skin’, is fitted between a stump and prosthetic limb to alert patients of any tissue damage and alert them to seek medical advice.

The technology, funded by the Medical Research Council, could be available to NHS patients within three years.

It is believed that there are around 50,000 lower limb amputees in the UK. In 2000, a report by the Audit Commission revealed that nearly one in four did not use their prosthetic limbs as much as they would like on account of pain and discomfort.

One of the research team from the University of Southampton, Dr Jiang, commented: “A large number of lower limb amputees may suffer from nerve damage and they have reduced skin sensation. That means that they don’t feel the pain or the tissue as effectively as we do. And it may be too late, because once that soft tissue is compromised it could lead to infection and could be really serious.”

Imogen Wetton, a serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “We have seen a number of breakthroughs in recent months which could dramatically improve life for amputees, but the fact that this could be made available on the NHS within three years makes it all the more exciting.

“From our work with clients we have seen first-hand the devastating effect that an amputation can have on people’s lives. We keep a close watch on all advancements in prosthetic technology that can help improve life for amputees to see if there are developments which can be recommended to clients in the future.”