Woven technology: a surprising forerunner in compression wear

Sprains, soreness, swelling, fatigue — there are many reasons for prescribing compression wear. Compression garments help to promote blood and fluid circulation. They can be used during common activities like walking and air travel, or during sports to boost performance and recovery. They can also be used for more serious medical conditions. Considering the many benefits of compression, how can the design of the garment optimize patient outcomes? ISKO+Health made some surprising discoveries in the laboratory.

Compression for medical conditions

Swelling in the legs, a condition known as oedema, is a painful condition that can restrict range of motion and impair everyday activities. It may occur for many reasons, for example: sitting or standing for long periods, excessive salt intake, hormonal changes, obesity, or external injuries, such as sprains.

In some cases, oedema can be traced to more serious medical conditions, including varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and lymphedema. Vein conditions and lymphedema create blood and fluid build-up, which can lead to swelling in the limbs. Applying compression to these limbs supports the impaired venous and lymphatic systems and encourages the blood and fluids to properly flow, reducing the swelling effect.

Compression therapy conventions

Compression therapy has been used for centuries. Historical records suggest that the Greeks and Romans used compression in ancient times for wound healing and to manage swelling. With the invention of elastic in the early 19th century, compression garments began to gain increased recognition in medical practice. Advancements in textile manufacturing in the 20th century led to improved designs for compression, and today, compression garments can be found in a variety of forms, such as socks, stockings, and wraps.

Compression garments have typically been made with knitting, a construction consisting of loops. The nature of this construction is inherently stretchy, which combined with elastic yarn, gives garments a flexible fit. Knitted constructions can also be made without seams, and varied stitches can create varied levels of compression. Given these qualities, no compression wear manufacturer ever questioned the conventional textile constructions used to create compression garments.

Advancements in woven technology

ISKO+Health was founded in 2020 as an innovative application for woven technology. Its parent company, ISKO — a denim company with over 100 years of experience in woven textiles — holds multiple patents in fabric and stretch technology. ISKO led the denim revolution as it evolved through the decades from a rigid, sturdy cloth to a multi-faceted, performance material. As the material made incredible advancements in comfort and stretch, the denim company began imagining a place for its unique woven cloth in the medical arena. Pioneered by Dr. Edgar van der Linden, ISKO+Health was born.

Medical-grade woven compression

Manufacturers of medical compression garments for lymphedema, oedema, and other conditions must adhere to medical standards and regulations to ensure that the products meet the necessary therapeutic requirements. The challenge of converting woven technology from fashion to medical application was accepted by ISKO+Health’s research and development team of textile engineers. The in-house team developed and tested their prototypes with industry-standard machinery to gauge the garments’ fit; compression levels, pressure, and lifespan; breathability; durability; washability; comfort; and style. The results were shockingly different than those of knitted compression wear.

Benefits of woven compression

After 8 hours of wear, ISKO+Health’s woven compression garments retained 89% of their compression, compared to only 62% with several competitive knitted garments on the market. After 15 weeks of use, the knitwear compression level had reached 0% while the woven prototype retained 57% compression power.

The woven fabrics from ISKO+Health could also deliver roughly 50% more pressure on the body: 59% compared to 34% for medical compression garments and 40% for sport compression garments. The woven garments also had more than double the recovery of the knitted compression wear garments: the woven compression garments regained 74% of their form, compared to only 32% with knitwear.

The woven compression garments for lymphedema and oedema were also tested on real subjects with an external researcher. All participants reported that the garment was comfortable, and their medical conditions had statistically significant improvements.

New solutions for compression therapy

In addition to an improved textile, ISKO+Health has sought to create designs that are easy for patients to don and doff, making self-management easy and increasing adherence to the therapy. The flat design of the VitalWrap™, an adjustable compression wrap for lower leg swelling, adheres to itself with three Velcro tabs. Indicators on the wrap allow the patient to adjust the compression level at the various points, as necessary for their specific treatment. In addition to white and black twill-woven fabric, the wrap is also offered in denim with fashion trimming, giving style to a typically medical-looking product.

Alongside compression wear for lymphedema and oedema, ISKO+Health is currently developing a full assortment of compression wear for post-surgical recovery with the hope to create products that further the company’s purpose: to use technology to provide a better alternative and new approach to medical textiles.

For more information about the VitalWrap™ or other compression garments, send a message through our contact form.