New smart bandages could monitor and treat chronic wounds

chronic wound

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Researchers in the United States present their findings on research into new smart bandages capable of real-time monitoring and treating chronic wounds.

Chronic wounds develop when a wound fails to heal within the expected time, which might be a couple of weeks or up to several months. They are often caused by diabetic wounds, pressure ulcers, leg ulcers, arterial ulcers, and malignant wounds. Chronic wounds may lead to severe pain, affecting an individual’s quality of life.

Chronic wounds affect millions

Currently, chronic wounds are a major health concern in the United States as they are affecting over 25 million people. This number will likely increase owing to the aging population and the continuous increase in the number of diabetes and obesity cases. According to the American Professional Wound Care Association, chronic wounds have caused the nation over 30 billion dollars each year in medications and healthcare services.

Smart and flexible bandage monitors chronic wounds in real time

Healing of chronic wounds is often persistent, difficult and challenging, either because of the severity of the wounds or the poor state of health of the individual. In a recent study published in the journal Small, a group of researchers in the United States developed a smart and flexible bandage for real-time monitoring and treatment of the chronic wounds. To achieve these goals, the researchers engineered pH and temperature sensors, microheater, and heat-activated antibiotic gel on a transparent medical tape with only 3mm thick.

Triggered release of antibiotics

This new smart bandage, for the first time, provides a complete wearable system to monitor chronic wounds in real-time. The prototypes were capable to detect the changes in pH values and temperature associated with inflammation. These changes would then trigger the release of antibiotic drugs into the wound to treat infections. More interestingly, the researchers have added sensors that could continuously measure oxygenation, which is an important sign of healing.

This exciting study opens new doors to reshape the future of wound management for real-time monitoring and treating chronic wounds. This smart bandage strip could remotely send wound progression data and issue early warnings to patients and healthcare staffs, regarding the need to change the dressing.

Written by Man-tik Choy, Ph.D

Reference: Mostafalu P et al. (2018). Smart Bandage for Monitoring and Treatment of Chronic Wounds. Small, 1703509. DOI 10.1002/smll.201703509.

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