Oxygen-sensing, color-changing bandage could prevent chronic wounds

Chronic skin wounds such as pressure ulcers can become very serious if left untreated, potentially even leading to amputations. A new “smart” bandage could help, by changing color before such wounds occur in the first place.

The bandage is being developed at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, by a team led by Dr. Chang-Soo Kim. It consists of a flexible, disposable wound dressing material, onto which is inkjet-printed a patch of a proprietary oxygen-sensitive ink.

The idea is that the bandage would be applied to areas of the body that are already being subjected to excessive pressure, such as the ankles or hips of patients who are confined to a bed for long periods of time. If the blood circulation started to become restricted in the skin of the underlying area – which is the cause of pressure ulcers – the ink would change color in response to the skin’s lowered oxygen levels.

The ink is printed onto one of the experimental bandages
The ink is printed onto one of the experimental bandages

Michael Pierce, Missouri S&T

Instead of simply leaving the visual assessment to individual caregivers, an app would be used to objectively analyze the “luminescence intensity” of the bandage in smartphone photos. If that app determined the circulation was getting dangerously low, it would provide an alert stating that preventative measures needed to be taken. The app could additionally be used to send information to physicians who were remotely monitoring patients via the internet.

It is hoped that once the technology is eventually commercialized, each bandage could be made from materials totalling less than one US dollar.

Source: Missouri University of Science and Technology

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