Building a Smarter Bandage
Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
Smartphones, smartwatches, and smart electrocardiograms. How about a smart bandage?
This image features a prototype of a smart bandage equipped with temperature and pH sensors (lower right) printed directly onto the surface of a thin, flexible medical tape. You also see the “brains” of the operation: a microprocessor (upper left). When the sensors prompt the microprocessor, it heats up a hydrogel heating element in the bandage, releasing drugs and/or other healing substances on demand. It can also wirelessly transmit messages directly to a smartphone to keep patients and doctors updated.
While the smart bandage might help mend everyday cuts and scrapes, it was designed with the intent of helping people with hard-to-heal chronic wounds, such as leg and foot ulcers. Chronic wounds affect millions of Americans, including many seniors . Such wounds are often treated at home and, if managed incorrectly, can lead to infections and potentially serious health problems.