The healing process for chronic wounds can be time consuming and troublesome. The wounds must be treated with a great amount of care and instruction. So, wouldn’t it be convenient to have a bandage that was able to control and care for the wound itself? “Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and MIT have designed a smart bandage that could eventually heal chronic wounds or battlefield injuries with every fiber of its being.”
Researchers developed a bandage filled with individual fibers that can be packed with antibiotics, painkillers, and other medications to treat wounds. A small microcontroller, which can be controlled through a smartphone, is placed on the wound and sends a voltage to the electrically conductive fibers to release the treatments. The bandages can be filled with many different medications, all which are customized for the specific type of wound. The bandage is able to control the dosage and timings of the treatment, creating an easier healing process. As Ali Tamayol, a professor of mechanical and materials engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, states, “That combination of customization and control could substantially improve or accelerate the healing process.”
The researchers at Harvard designed several experiments to test out their smart bandage. One experiment revolved around testing the bandage filled with a growth factor on injured mice. Compared to a dry bandage, the smart bandage was able to regrow three times as much of the tissue needed to heal the wound. Another experiment loaded the bandage with antibiotics and was able to eradicate infectious bacteria.
For now, the team sees this bandage being used to heal wounds caused by diabetes, as 25 million Americans are affected by these wounds. However, the cost to treat these wounds is immense, and these smart bandages can ultimately aid with that.
The team also says that this bandage can be used to help soldiers on the battlefield, as it is easily customizable and adaptable. The soldiers can utilize the bandage “to stimulate faster healing of bullet and shrapnel wounds or prevent the onset of infection in remote environments.” The bandage makes it easier for soldiers to recover faster from their injuries, without having to worry about the demanding care needed to heal the wounds.
While this product has years before it is placed on the market, its efficiency and potential opens up a world of new opportunities for healing chronic wounds. As the study states, “This is a platform that can be applied to many different areas of biomedical engineering and medicine.”
Aanya Lall ‘19
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Smartphone-controlled smart bandage for better, faster healing.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171005161120.htm>.