Heath Reed

Support 4 All


Output: Design

This design research led by Reed focused on the development of a brassiere to improve the treatment accuracy, and dignity for women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer.

In the UK, every year, around 55k woman who have undergone a lumpectomy (the removal of cancerous tissues) will require a course of radiotherapy. The therapy involves a series of separate breast irradiation treatment sessions.

Many techniques for breast irradiation are used and vary in procedure across NHS clinics. However, all require the patient to undress from the waist upwards while up to 4 staff (including men) adjust their position in preparation for treatment. Positioning of the breast is important to avoid radiation doses to organs at risk (OAR) and to increase reproducibility to accurately target the cancerous cells.

Reed explored patient and staff experiences and requirements for a support garment that balanced accurate positioning of the breast that was acceptable to patients and helped to maintain modesty. Initial designs were developed in response to findings from this phase of the study.

Working concurrently with radiologists, industry, patients and health-care professionals, these were refined using an iterative design research cycle. The final outcome of the research was a support bra which was the focus of a Clinical Feasibility Trial in compliance and approved by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The study showed significant benefits in reducing negative effects to OAR and improved modesty and dignity.

The outcome of the research has achieved patent and commercial licensing in negotiation. This research was selected as one of the Top 100 University Breakthroughs.

The study further sought to quantify if new interventions are capable of streamlining therapy processes across clinics, and provide self-monitoring materials through the use and adoption of Support4All Bra. This research was funded by the NIHR i4i.

Research Output

This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.

Research Method

A key aspect of this research was to establish a level of scientific, logistical and end user (patient and health care practitioner) knowledge within the design team, so as to develop and propose appropriate product and system solutions.

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.

Other Projects By

Heath Reed