Smart bandages, which tell doctors how a wound is healing, are starting to be used in trials within the next year, according to researchers. Developers of the smart bandage are using a multi-technology approach, including nanotechnology, 5G infrastructure and 3D printing, creating an effective product while attempting to keep manufacturing costs down, for economies of scale.
The dressing would be an intelligent approach to treatment, which would allow doctors and medical staff to assess and keep up to date about the patient's progress. It would use micro sensors to detect issues such as infection, alerting the doctor if a problem were to arise. The bandage, which was created by Swansea University, is designed to detect any issues in between appointments with wound healing.
Prof Marc Clement, chairman of Life Sciences at Swansea University said “5G is an opportunity to produce resilient, robust bandwidth that is always there for the purpose of healthcare”.
In addition to this, the dressing would be cable to connect to the patient's smartphone, which could help monitor and track physical activity levels and impact recovery speed. Traditional medicine is where a clinician will see a patient and then prescribe medicine before seeing the patient again months later. What the future holds is where there is the ability to vary the treatment to the individual, the lifestyle and the pattern of life.
The method could be of great interest to the NHS, as although it would increase the costs as the raw materials and technology would cost significantly more than a piece of bandage, it would allow patients to know whether to come and visit a doctor or not, rather than immediately visiting the hospital when they think something is wrong, which is increasing the pressure on the NHS currently.
However, this isn't the first time smart bandage will be used to help prevent infection. Last year, British scientists developed a bandage which turned yellow when the wound became infected. Trials for this bandage are also currently ongoing. What is left to say is that this is a huge stepping stone in the biomedical world, and with further research, trials and funding, we may be seeing many of these smart bandages at our local pharmacies, GP’s and hospitals in the forthcoming future.