According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 1.5 million people in the U.S. and an estimated more than 5 million people worldwide are living with Lupus, an autoimmune disease with the potential to affect as many as 1 in 250 people. One company has made exciting strides in the way that patients can manage their symptoms, using a sleek new gadget and accompanying app.
But first, what is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy body cells as if they were foreign contaminants. Symptoms can include severe headache, fatigue, swollen rash, fever, sores of the face and mouth and crippling pain in the muscles and joints. It is the kind of disease that comes and goes, characterized by periods of no symptoms followed by a flare. Some of the things that can trigger Lupus to flare up include sunlight, infections, and stress.
A smarter way to manage symptoms
Science is still working on finding a cure for Lupus. As such, most available treatments focus on symptom management, especially limiting UV exposure to the patient’s skin. In the past, people living with Lupus would have to guess their exposure levels and stay inside as much as possible. But with the new Shade device and accompanying app, people can see an accurate measure of their exposure on their phone, and receive notifications when the device senses that they are approaching their customized personal daily limit.
Creator of Shade Emmanuel Dumont says, “People have to guess their exposure, or they have to use a weather app that gives the UV index, but that can be off by about 200 to 300 percent. Other UV sensors do not measure UV; they measure visible light and make an estimate based on visible light readings, which is dangerously inaccurate.”
The device is a magnetic clip similar to a fitness tracker that can be clipped to the user’s clothing. The device contains sensors that calculate the amount of UV radiation the wearer is exposed to and sends the data to a paired app on the user’s phone to give easy access to personalized UV exposure readings.
Shade is making it easier for an underserved demographic of chronically ill people to manage their symptoms and live with less pain. It is an altruistic enterprise that has brought a satisfying measure of success to its team of engineers and doctors. Dumont went on to say, “It’s very heartwarming, because we spent many, many hours each day and on the weekends working on a product, and when people use it to spend more time with their family and can be outside without worrying, it’s amazing for the team.”
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