We have phones, watches, even cars that are “smart.”
Now, a group of researchers has come up with a “smart bandage” that could turn wound care on its head.
“I actually got to go in and meet burn patients, our wounded warriors, who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and actually seeing how difficult it was to treat these patients,” Dr. Conor Evans said.
Dr. Evans is remembering a trip to an Army medical center, which inspired his latest research.
“When I came back, I sat down with my team and we just got to work. How can we improve wound-healing for these patients?” Dr. Evans said.
His answer? The Smart Bandage.
It’s a simple design that could revolutionize how wounds are managed, especially burns and diabetic ulcers which can be a challenge because it’s hard to tell if they’re healing properly.
“A doctor or nurse currently has to unwrap the burn or the wound and visually inspect it. They press it, they poke it, they smell it,” Dr. Evans said.
Even then, it’s not always black and white. But with the Smart Bandage, it’s red and green.
“We designed this to be like a traffic light. Red light, green light. Green light means good oxygenation, it means go. The patient is doing well. Red means oxygenation is poor. This part of the wound may be in trouble and may need attention fast,” Dr. Evans said.
That’s because oxygen is vital for good wound healing.
The Smart Bandage is easy to use.
Paint it on the wound, let it dry, cover it with a plastic film, then take a picture and voila – s it red or is it green?
One day, instead of using a camera with the Smart Bandage, doctors, nurses and even patients will be able to use their smartphone to detect the color change.
That means patients could monitor their own wounds at home and eventually release medications from the bandage.
“There is an infection, the patient can see that and release antibiotics. Inflammation, a patient can self-treat and release an anti-inflammatory,” Dr. Evans said.
Dr. Evans hopes to have a product available for hospitals and clinics within the next five years.
And possibly in the next ten?
“Something you might be able to pick up at your local CVS,” Dr. Evans said.