Just like we have smartphones and smart TVs, we now have smart bandages.
Smart bandages are already changing the way we heal the human body. Researchers at Swansea University are planning to start testing their smart bandage technology within 12 months, saying the technology could offer a personalized approach to medicine.
Smart bandages – just like smart TVs and smart home appliances – are bandages outfitted with advanced technology. Smart bandages use tiny sensors to track things like blood clotting or infections. That data is wirelessly sent to the health care provider. Patients receive better care, and doctors can monitor symptoms as they occur.
Instead of taking off a bandage to check for signs of infection or clotting, doctors can monitor it in real-time. Typically, patients healing from wounds are advised to return to the doctor after a certain amount of time to check on the progress. Smart bandages would eliminate this need.
Swansea University isn’t the only organization developing smart bandages. The University of California has also created its own prototypes.
How Do the Smart Bandages Work?
The smart bandages work using a multi-technology approach. Essentially, researchers use nano-sensors to track subtle changes in the patient’s biometric data.
Some of the key technologies used in smart bandages include nanotechnology, nanoelectronics, printing and coating, and biochemistry. All of these platforms are connected through 5G infrastructure to bring the smart bandages to life.
Patients can track their own bandage data: the bandages send data to the health care provider and to the patient’s smartphone. Using their mobile device, patients can also keep track of other health concerns – like inactivity or diet issues that could compound their problem.
“You combine all of that intelligence so the clinician knows the performance of the specific wound at any specific time and can then tailor the treatment protocol to the individual and wound in question,” said Professor Marc Clement, Chairman of the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University in a statement to The Telegraph.
“Sometimes we revere doctors so much that we tell them all is well but all of the evidence is there before them in this 5G world, so the clinician and patient can work together to address the challenge.”
What’s next for smart bandages? Clinical trials are already taking place on basic smart bandages.
The smart bandages currently in use today don’t contain wireless technology: instead, they change colors when a wound becomes infected. Swansea University’s smart bandages will begin clinical trials within the next 12 months. Meanwhile, UC Berkeley is already trialing smart bandages that can detect bedsores.
Smart bandages won’t just change medicine in the future: they’re already changing medicine today.