The Lowly Bandage Goes High Tech

If the various research teams around the world right now have their way, the lowly gauze bandage may often be replaced by high-tech smart bandages. Bandages may soon be able to ward off infection in wounds or burns or prevent further tissue damage.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Develops Hydrogel Matrix Smart Bandages

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is currently in the midst of the scientific study of a high tech bandage intended both to monitor the area to which it is adhered and provide delivery of medication as needed.

This bandage is made of a substance similar to soft human tissue, that has with sensors implanted within it to detect temperature and deliver medication via tiny channels, along with LED lights that signify changes or functions such as when the medication reservoir is running low.

The bandage is mainly composed of a stretchable hydrogel material, what the researchers will hope to prove amenable to the human body both internally and externally. The implanted sensors will then continually relay information to the health care team pertinent to the application and allow for direct delivery of medication.

The research team hopes that the hydrogel may prove suitable for use in the human brain for neural devices, something that up to now has been fraught with problems due to long term biocompatibility with other materials, according to MIT News.

University of Bath Researchers Develop Wound Dressing Smart Bandage

One of the most critical issues in efficient wound healing, from surgical incisions to traumatic injury to burns is that of infection prevention. Currently, the detection of infection to a wound is left to the observational skills of the health care team or the patient him or herself when healing at home. By the time the signs and symptoms of infection occur – redness, increased heat to the area, purulent drainage – the infection has established itself, requiring the use of antibiotics at the least and potential septicemia if the organism is resistant to treatment.

A new smart bandage being developed by another team at MIT would signal early signs of wound infection – earlier than can be detected by the human eye and before the infecting organism could establish a firm hold in the wound.

Scientists have developed a bandage infused with a gel material into which tiny capsules are infused. The capsules contain a nontoxic fluorescent dye that’s released when the bandage senses the presence of bacteria known to commonly infect wounds, as reported by MIT Technology Review.  Members of the health care team would be alerted to the very early presence of an infecting bacteria, making early treatment a viable option and perhaps avoiding the need for antibiotic use.

Testing has been limited to the laboratory, but initial studies on humans may take place in the treatment of burns at the University of Bristol. Patients with burns are often over-prescribed antibiotics by physicians because the concern about the possibility of infection is so great. The use of this smart bandage may prevent both infection and injudicious use of antibiotics that can result in an overgrowth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


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