Temporary Tattoos and Device Help Children Take Insulin Injections

WRITTEN BY: Mariana Gomez

As parents of young children with Type 1 diabetes, we know that one of the most complicated self-management tasks is insulin injection. We know well that the syringes and needles used today are small and thin, but this does not avoid it from being a complicated task for children and, of course, for their parents.

The world of diabetes is rapidly advancing, and new technologies to manage our condition are being developed. Unfortunately, it seems that the medical and the aesthetics cannot always go hand in hand, and we are not always able to find attractive enough devices for our little ones.

In this search for tools that help us in the educational processes of children with Type 1 diabetes that can facilitate their lives with this condition, we found Renata Souza.

Renata is also Thomas’ aunt. Thomas was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 5 years old. Thomas and his family are people who are always looking for ways to immerse themselves in knowledge and become experts in the management of an extraordinarily complex condition.

This is how Renata created Thomy. Thomy is an insulin kit; it is a Mexican design that has the purpose of helping children when it comes to the application of insulin. It includes temporary tattoos with planetary designs and others (really suitable for children) so that they can print them to their body and remember insulin injection sites (working in the rotation of sites and protecting their skin from possible injuries).

Each temporary tattoo has a different design, but of course, each design is beautiful and thematically engaging for kids. These symbols have red markings so that when disinfecting the area (when preparing the skin before the injection) the mark will be erased. After several injections, each red dot will be erased with an alcohol wipe, and a new temporary tattoo should be placed on another part of the body ( arm, lower back, legs, etc.).

It should also be noted that Thomy has its injector and that it was created taking into account the dimensions of the hands of the little ones and disguising the large syringe with a suit of striking colors. The case is made of a resistant material, taking into consideration that the device requires being handled by children and it will not be damaged when transported for example, in a school backpack or in mom’s bag (which is full of many other things for the care of the little ones).

Beyond Type 1 interviewed Renata and this was what she told us …

BT1: Renata, tell us about yourself … what do you do and why did you choose to dedicate yourself to industrial design?

RS: I am 24 years old, and I am an industrial and graphic designer. I recently graduated (May 2017) from Parsons University School of Design in New York. Right now I am dedicated full-time to Thomy which was my thesis project; I am doing everything possible to put it on the market.

Why did I choose to dedicate myself to design? Since I was little I loved making crafts and drawing; over time I appreciated more and more art and design, and when I was about 15 years old I decided that I wanted to study graphic design. It was not until the second year of my university studies that I realized that my real passion was to design three-dimensional objects and that’s why I ended up in industrial design.

BT1: What was your motivation to develop this design?

RS: About a year ago my cousin’s son (Thomas) who was 6 years old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At that time I was in college, and one of my projects was to design a toy for children. I decided that I wanted to design something for children with diabetes as I was thinking about Thomas and his family. Soon after his diagnosis Thomas had to start injecting about three times a day, add and subtract glucose ranges and carbohydrate counting to manage his glucose, and as if this was not enough, so he had to stop eating many things that he liked.

His condition was forcing him to grow and mature; for this reason, I was interested in finding something fun that would, at the same time, help him and his family manage his condition.

I immediately contacted my cousin so she could tell me all about the difficulties they were facing as a family and what they would change if they could. From there, little by little, I discovered design opportunities with the problems that my cousin, her husband and Thomas were having as a family. First came the tattoos and soon I developed an insulin kit. I could never have imagined how this project would end.

I wanted to find a way to make the life of a child with diabetes less stressful and more comfortable to manage; make it easier for children with diabetes to manage their condition by means of a game, so that little by little they can become independent in their self-management since Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition and does not go away.

My goal was to create a product that had the perfect balance between a medical tool and a toy.

BT1: What was the impression of Thomas with this design and what this experience leave in you as a  designer?

RS: In the early stages of research and sketching, I tried to contact my cousin either by phone or Facetime and so she could explain the different products for people with diabetes that Thomas already had.

As the project was developed, the person who gave me his feedback always was Thomas himself. I remember that I had a question regarding the name of the product in the case and I sent my cousin some pictures so I could have Thomas’ opinion.  She replied to my email along with a picture of Thomas smiling. I sent prototypes to Mexico on several occasions, and I could not see Thomas’ reaction in person, but through the pictures that I received I could see what he thought and felt, and this made me feel incredibly happy as I was able to help my nephew through something that I love to do: design.

After presenting my thesis, I had the opportunity to visit Mexico and shoot a video with Thomas for a contest. This was the first time Thomas and his family saw the finished product.

I loved seeing the reaction of Thomas who had when trying the product and using every piece. I loved his smile when he saw the bright colors of the pens and the excitement that came from being able to choose from several tattoos. His attitude towards my product was incredible. Not only this but the fact that his brother Agus, who do not live with diabetes, wanted a tattoo — he was dying to participate. That’s when I knew I had achieved my goal. I managed to make diabetes management for Thomas more fun.

This as a designer, makes me motivated and confirms my passion for designing. I love being able to benefit society in one way or another through my designs.

BT1: This is a design is not yet for sale. Are you considering selling this product?

RS: This is my next move. I would love to see this product in the market in some years; really nothing could give me more happiness that more children could enjoy this product; facilitating the management of their condition and giving them a feeling of joy and autonomy day by day.

The product’s patent is still pending, but we hope that soon this project can reach markets and the hands of many children with Type 1 diabetes.

If you want to know more about Renata and her project, visit here.

Learn more about Tools and How to Guides for better Diabetes Management.

Mariana Gomez

Mariana is the Project Manager for Beyond Type 1. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the summer of 1985. She's a Diabetes Educator and a Licensed Psychologist specialized in Narrative. On 2008, Mariana started a blog where she shares her experiences and diabetes knowledge with others and she began being an active advocate through social media. She's considered a diabetes influencer in Latin America and has participated in several conferences, events, and TV shows dedicated to diabetes education in the last years. She worked for the Mexican Diabetes Federation as Communications Manager helping to build and empower the diabetes community in Mexico. She is nowadays Community Manager for EsTuDiabetes.org and is a proud mother of a 10-year-old football player.