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About the Pēpi Splint

The Problem

Current splint and tape methods cause damage to the skin and risk other injuries of neonates. 

Latrogenic skin injury in hospitalised babies is common. Most babies who are admitted to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit require a peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) for fluids, medication and nutrition. PIVCs (drips) are placed inside a vein and are the most used device in unwell babies, with many babies requiring multiple drips.

Secured to the baby’s limb using splints and adhesive dressings, removing the adhesive dressing (Elastoplast) tears and removes up to 80% of the fragile neonatal skin, increasing the risk of infection and possibly lasting skin damage.

In an estimated 1 - 5 cases [New Zealand] a year, accidental digit amputation occurs.

Skin injuries are the most common iatrogenic injuries in hospitalised babies, which increases the risk of infection (local and systemic) and can lead to fluid and electrolyte imbalance and temperature instability. 

The skin injury can cause complications which prolong hospitalisation and can result in permanent scarring.

A single adhesive removal has been shown
to strip 70-90% of a baby's epidermis. 


How We Got Involved

We began the Pēpi Splint project in 2017 with the Waikato hospital NICU unit. Within this niche care sector, there have not been any significant developments in this field. There is very little data on skin injury recorded nor severity of skin loss. While its not pleasant and no one likes it, it's seen as par for the course and accepted part of a wider


At the same time as Waikato hospital contacted us to see if we could propose a solution, perhaps in a case of serendipity, one of senior designers had his first child. All was not well and they ended up at Auckland's
Starship Children’s Hospital, experiencing first-hand, the lifesaving but
painful events associated with PIVC placements.

As a close knit team, we were hyper empathetic to their plight, so we jumped at the chance to make a difference.

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