Chips are now assisting band aids to monitor for signs of infections in your wounds and supplying the necessary antibiotics automatically.
Now, a group of researchers from Tufts University have done just that–developed a “smart bandage” that has the ability to monitor a chronic wound for infection, and deliver antibiotics, growth factors or even pain medicine if needed.
The aim of the researchers is simple: to design a bandage to improve the rate of healing of chronic wounds?
One way is by creating a “smart bandage” to monitor the pH and temperature of the wound, since these are important indicators of the “health” of a healing wound. The normal pH of a healing wound is 5.5—6.5. A pH greater than 6.5 is an early sign that the wound may be at greater risk for infection. Meanwhile, the temperature of a wound is also an important indicator of inflammation, which elevates in the setting of infection.
Chronic, non-healing wounds are a major economic and medical dilemma in the U.S. Such wounds are also generally treated in the home setting, or may require costly and repeated visits to healthcare providers to ensure that infection is not developing.
Some of the wounds–the result of long standing diabetes, burns, or trauma–can also lead to amputations if wound infections are not rapidly diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, debridement or other invasive surgical procedures.
“We’ve been able to take a new approach to bandages because of the emergence of flexible electronics,” said Sameer Sonkusale, Ph.D. professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts University’s School of Engineering and corresponding co-author for the study said in a press release. “In fact, flexible electronics have made many wearable medical devices possible, but bandages have changed little since the beginnings of medicine. We are simply applying modern technology to an ancient art in the hopes of improving outcomes for an intractable problem.”