A new kind of smart bandage may make treatment of these wounds easier, more effective, and less expensive. Unlike a typical bandage, which might only consist of layers of absorbent material, the smart bandages are made from a flexible and stretchy polymer containing embedded electronics and medication. The electronics allow the sensor to monitor for molecules like uric acid or lactate and conditions like pH level or temperature in the wound that may be indicative of inflammation or bacterial infection.
The bandage can respond in one of three ways: First, it can transmit the gathered data from the wound wirelessly to a nearby computer, tablet, or smartphone for review by the patient or a medical professional. Second, it can deliver an antibiotic or other medication stored within the bandage directly to the wound site to treat the inflammation and infection. Third, it can apply a low-level electrical field to the wound to stimulate tissue growth resulting in faster healing.
In animal models under laboratory conditions, the smart bandages showed the ability to provide real-time updates about wound conditions and the animals' metabolic states to researchers, as well as offer speed healing of chronic infected wounds similar to those found in humans.
Future research will focus on improving the bandage technology and testing it on human patients, whose therapeutic needs may be different than those of lab animals.