Needle Free Blood Glucose Testing

Post 4 by Lucy Allen

In the recent blog post Truths of Type 1 Diabetes I explored the emotional and social impact living with Type 1 Diabetes and a lack of support can have. Tackling these social issues requires a long-term intervention and strategies to ensure a better support network and management for diabetics.  There are however many exciting and fast-paced innovations in the field of Type 1 Diabetes that make living with the disease a littler easier for people like myself.

A common issue faced by people living with Type 1 Diabetes is the large amount of needles used day to day. Between injections, blood glucose tests and site insertions Diabetics use over 3000 needles a year. There are options these days in regards to injecting insulin in the form of an insulin pump, decreasing 5 – 10 injections a day to just one needle insertion every three days however testing your blood glucose level (BGL) is imperative in the proper management of Type 1 Diabetes and is done so by pricking your finger with a needle to draw blood for reading by a metre multiple times a day.

testing-blood-sugar-levels
Testing your BGL  (G. Matej, 2015)

Just recently Abbott have released the first needle-free BGL monitoring system called The FreeStyle Libre Flash. This system works by inserting a sensor into the upper arm that can be scanned using the monitor to receive not only a BGL but also detecting patterns and trends. This breakthrough technology is the first of it’s kind in offering needle free testing, providing ease of use and making living with Type 1 Diabetes just a little bit easier. Abbot have very effectively engaged with a major issue for those living with Type 1 that is in no way a cure but rather explores a major detriment of the disease and developed the appropriate technology in response. Whilst this technology doesn’t completely obliterate the use of needles as the sensors insertion still requires a needle, it drastically decreases the use of them and enables easier and more user-friendly BGL testing.

abbott libre
The FreeStyle Libre System (Abbott, 2016)

Whilst it’s clear Abbott have very successfully engaged and provided a solution to this issue there are still social barriers the deter people such as myself from using this new system. The system is usable whilst swimming, showering, exercising and in most day to day situations. Despite so many benefits, for me the idea of having another thing attached to me in addition to my insulin pump is a big turn off. With an insulin pump, the site and pump can sit comfortable and discreetly under my clothing however with the Libre it is inserted on the upper arm in clear view. For someone such as myself who lives in the sun and at the beach, the thought of the sensor being so blatantly obvious really deters me as it screams ‘there’s something wrong with me’. For me I would rather keep using needles to prick myself, draw blood and test my BGL to avoid this more intrusive technology.

It’s clear that whilst Abbott have provided an emergent solution to an ongoing issue there are still further areas of engagement that need to tackle the more social aspects surrounding the Libre. This project is however a fantastic example of all the exciting and emergent outcomes that are coming to fruition as technology improves and issues surrounding health and obesity are explored. My hope is that we can continue to develop, test and respond to these innovations in a way that allows people living with Type 1 to feel more ‘normal’ as some might say.

References

Abbott, ‘Free Style Libre’, accessed 20th of August 2016, < http://www.freestylelibre.com.au/&gt;

G, Matej., 2016, ‘What is Normal Blood Sugar Level’, accessed 23rd of August 2016, <http://healthiack.com/health/what-is-normal-blood-sugar-level&gt;

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