Smart Wrap Implant Image
The device can detect when a bladder needs to be completely emptied and then send a signal to a polymer web with an electronic thread that can expand or contract. (Credit: Penn State)

An implantable smart wrap that fits safely and securely around the bladder may one day help people who have underactive bladders. The implant is an integrated device that can detect when the bladder needs to be completely emptied and then send a signal to a polymer web.

The implant combines sensors and a polymer wrap. The signal is sent with an electronic thread that expands or contracts with the bladder. After the bladder is emptied, the band returns to its initial formation. The device, which was tested in mice, uses sensors to enable precise monitoring in real-time of the bladder to address the underactive bladder condition.

The microLEDs, which are an array of micro light-emitting diodes, on the electronic thread are designed to deliver light to the bladder for optogenetic neuromodulation, which modulates the function of the targeted organ.

The researchers say the wrap might be retooled to help people who have unconscious urination due to overactive bladders. The implant may also help people with other disease conditions to go from diagnostic confirmation to advanced therapeutic options in clinical medicine.

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