• Research priorities: Disability
  • Country: Philippines
  • Status: Completed

Project coordination

Leonard Wood Memorial Center for Leprosy Research (Philippines)

This study aims to assess whether skin lesions can be used as proxy indicaor to detect early signs of nerve function impairment in leprosy.

Inflamed skin lesions along an area of a peripheral nerve as a patient self-help proxy indicator in detecting early signs of nerve function impairment in leprosy


May 2017 - April 2020

Project coordination

Leonard Wood Memorial Center for Leprosy Research (Philippines)

Project summary

Many patients with leprosy (PWL) cannot afford regular clinic visits due to work or limited resources. Some may be improperly assessed by front-line health workers untrained to evaluate leprosy, especially the related complications affecting the nerves. This results in late detection of nerve abnormalities resulting in visible deformities.

It is therefore important to identify a readily visible proxy indicator (skin sign) that will alert patients or front-line health workers of early signs of nerve abnormalities allowing timely referral and treatment before deformities set in. One possible indicator readily visible by the naked eye is the presence of a red and swollen skin lesion overlying a nerve. For example, if a previously flat and pale patch along the inner half of the right arm suddenly becomes red, painful and swollen, this may be an early signal that the right ulnar nerve underneath is at risk of functional impairment which if not promptly treated may lead to nerve damage or clawing of the right hand.

The research group will conduct an observational study comparing skin signs with nerve signs underneath. The goal is to empower patients to conduct regular self-help monitoring using signs visible by the naked eye. This will encourage self-reporting resulting to prompt referral and treatment of complications preventing nerve damage or onset of deformities.

Furthermore, this approach will alert and guide patients and front-line health workers to identify high risk cases requiring prompt care and attention.

The research project will answer two questions:

  1. Can skin signs be used by patients as “self-help” monitoring tool in detecting early signs of nerve abnormalities?
  2. Are patients with red, painful and swollen lesions overlying a nerve more prone to develop visible deformities compared to other patients?


€ 109,223 | Project number: 705.17.07