By leveraging inkjet printing technology, smart wound dressings could be more affordable than ever.
Over the last several years, researchers across the world have been developing a series of smart bandages. These state-of-the-art bandages make use of cutting-edge technology to improve wound care outcomes.
One such option, created by a team from the University of Texas at Arlington, can transmit read-outs to doctors on individual wounds. Another equally innovative bandage uses special software to predict bedsores before they reach critical state. Some bandages, like one from a group at Northwestern University, feature a patented blend of proteins and polymers to aid wound healing.
Now, another intriguing new smart bandage has emerged courtesy of a group from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
A Smarter Bandage
According to a recent edition of the journal Scientific Reports, the Saudi team created a new bandage that uses sensor arrays to communicate information to doctors and caregivers. To begin with the development of the new bandage, the Saudi scientists met with doctors to understand what they wanted from new technologies. These physicians noted that they would like to see bandages that track things like external pressure, wound bleeding and pH levels, which is what the Saudi collective focused on.
Then came the challenge of how they would be able to fabricate the bandage; the solution eventually came with inkjet printing. In an accompanying press release, lead author Atif Shamim from KAUST’s electrical engineering program explained that the inkjet was not only easier, it’s a relatively inexpensive option that would keep these bandages affordable. To further help with the expenses of the bandage, the team uses several other affordable components, namely silver antenna patterns and a new form of polymer film. It was these components that made it so the circuits could be reusable, another effective way to cut costs and use the most reliable technology.
In the aforementioned press release, Shamim said they wanted to use the bandage not just to help heal people but for the purposes of long-term data collection. These new insights, as Shamim explained, could greatly improve the wound care industry and modern medicine as a whole.
There is no word yet as to when the KAUST team’s bandage might be available, but it would certainly help those patients with chronic wounds. In the U.S. alone, more than 6.5 million people contend with these wounds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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