Waiting for a wound to heal can feel like forever. And as you wait, cuts and scrapes are vulnerable to infection, which can delay the healing process. However, soon there may be a solution that can help speed things up. Researchers at Stanford University debuted a “smart bandage” that not only helps treat wounds but also monitors their healing status.
Although it is the same size as your average bandage, this new piece of technology is actually composed of wireless circuitry that uses electrical stimulation to accelerate tissue closure and reduce the chances of infection. The entire electronic layer—which includes biosensors and a microcontroller unit (MCU)—is layered with hydrogel, which acts as a courier for the electrical stimulation to the injured tissue. In addition, all of the healing processes are monitored through the bandage and can be checked via a smartphone.
“In sealing the wound, the smart bandage protects as it heals,” says Yuanwen Jiang, the first co-author of the study and a post-doctoral scholar in the lab of Zhenan Bao, the K.K. Lee Professor in Chemical Engineering in the Stanford School of Engineering. “But it is not a passive tool. It is an active healing device that could transform the standard of care in the treatment of chronic wounds.”
Although the data looks promising, researchers still have to address how they will scale up the smart bandage to other larger sizes, reduce the cost of production, and take into consideration the possible negative effects the hydrogel will have on the skin, causing irritation in some. Even so, the hope is that the smart bandage will offer a new standard of care to those who are afflicted by recurring ailments.