Even with medical science advances, the treatment of wounds is often fairly low tech. The process of changing bandages and applying the right medication at the right interval is often labor intensive. Promoting faster healing and preventing infection remain concerns.
Scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and MIT have developed a bandage that works with a smartphone to dispense the right medication onto the wound at the right time. The smart bandage features electrically conductive fibers coated in a hydrogel that contains medicines like painkillers, antibiotics and tissue-regenerating therapies, which can target a specific type of wound.
The dosage and delivery schedule are managed through a small microcontroller in the bandage that can be triggered by a wireless device like a smartphone. Once activated, it produces a small amount of voltage that heats the fiber, causing it to release the hydrogel.
Researchers see a number of applications for the smart bandage, including the treatment of chronic skin wounds stemming from diabetes. It could also be used on the battlefield to better treat combat injuries by targeting bullet and shrapnel wounds with the right medicines to promote healing and prevent infection.
The team is also experimenting with incorporating thread-based sensors into the bandage that can measure glucose, pH and other health-related indicators of skin tissue. For more information, visit www.unl.edu.