'Smart bandage' may help solve a major problem when treating chronic wounds

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How can doctors ensure that a dressing wound heals without removing the bandage? This is a problem because removing a wrap can cause the healing process to be disrupted. A new study published in Frontiers in Physics may offer some insight into the technology.

The new smart bandage contains a sensor that measures the moisture level of wounds and transmits the data to nearby smartphones. This is without the need for doctors to remove it. Researchers may be able, in the future, to modify the materials and geometry of the bandage to better suit different types wounds. This technology could allow doctors to monitor wounds easier and more effectively.

Patients who have suffered from chronic wounds may experience significant pain and disability. It can be difficult to get such wounds healed. There are many factors that affect wound healing such as temperature, glucose, and acidity. Moisture levels are crucial. Too dry and tissue can become dehydrated. Too wet and it can turn whiter and wrinkled, just like it did in the bath. These two situations can disrupt the healing process.

If a doctor needs to assess the moisture level of a wound, they will need to remove the bandage. This could cause damage to the delicate healing tissue. This is why the smart bandage was created. It allows for non-invasive monitoring of wound moisture levels. It was difficult to choose the right materials, since bandages must be biocompatible, disposable, and affordable.

How it works

To achieve this, the researchers applied a conductive polymer called poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) onto a gauze using a technique called screen printing, and then incorporated the gauze with commercially available bandage materials. The sensor measures electrical signals by measuring changes in moisture levels.

Dr. Marta Tessarolo of Bologna University, who was the lead author of the study, explained that PEDOT:PSS is an organic semiconducting plastic polymer that can easily be deposited on many substrates as a standardink. We also included a disposable, but still-useable, RFID tag that is compatible with bandages into the textile patch. It was similar to clothing security tags. The tag communicates wirelessly with a smartphone to transmit moisture levels, which allows healthcare personnel to determine when a bandage should be changed.

The researchers tested various bandages and materials to see if they would withstand artificial wound exudate. The bandage had a high level of sensitivities, giving them different readings depending on whether they were dry, wet, or saturated. This suggests that it could be an effective tool for wound management.

"We created a variety of bandages with different layers, different absorption characteristics and characteristics," Dr. Luca Possanzini, another University of Bologna author, said. "The idea was that every type of wound could have its appropriate dressing. This includes wounds that are slow to exude and wounds with high exudation like burns or blisters. Before we can use our technology on different types of wounds, however, we need to optimize the sensor geometry and determine appropriate sensor values to ensure optimal healing.

Continue reading World's first smartbandage detects multiple biomarkers to provide on-site chronic wound monitoring

More information: Wireless textile moisture sensor for wound care, Frontiers in Physics, DOI: 10.3389/fphy.2021.722173 Wireless textile moisture sensor for wound care,