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The bright future of smart bandages

In wound care

Although wounds may seem miscellaneous to the naked eye, they can pose a great threat to the healthcare system, by overburdening health services through infections. Thus, it is essential to navigate wound care thoroughly to reduce burden and increase patient quality of life. Wounds can be caused by an array of different reasons and pose such a great threat because of the limited ways we’ve had to treat them which has resulted in issues such as antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions and so on. In recent times to enable higher quality treatment, a new invention known as the “smart bandage” has been made which uses nothing but LED at its disposal to promote wound healing!

The smart bandage is wireless and uses UVC light (ultraviolet C radiation) to sterilise wounds and prevent the risk of infection. This in turn decreases the chances of nosocomial incidences as well as opening doors for disinfection other than antibiotics or chemical based methods. The smart bandage is embedded with light emitting diodes called LEDs which emit UVC wavelength around 265-285nm using a controller.

The smart bandage operates by effectively manipulating UVC’s germicidal and antimicrobial properties. Researchers produced a coil which is inductive and flexible so that the technology would easily be inserted into conventional fabric bandages. Wireless power via magnetic resonance is used by the coil so that the UVC LED’s can be powered without batteries being used.  A second coil wirelessly transmits power to the inductive coil via electrical mains so that the LED is continuously receiving power supply till the required bacteria in the wound are eradicated.

Scientists tested this technology on pathogens like Pseudoalteromonas sp, which are bacteria associated with bloodstream infections, surgical areas as well as wounds. Once the bacteria were cultured and grown, UVC LEDs were exposed to the culture which in turn resulted in the decreased growth of bacterial cells and within six hours completed stopped their growth by causing DNA damage leading to apoptosis of the bacterial cells.

Currently, many wound treatment protocols involve the use of antibiotics which over time can lead to antibiotic resistance, thus straining health services by increasing hospital stays. The use of UVC based bandages not only decreases the risk of these consequences but is also environmentally friendly due to its low operating cost and reusability. Figure 4 also demonstrates added advantages of this technology.

Looking forward, the revolutionary ability of smart bandages is undeniable. Currently, there is ongoing research being conducted into integrating a monitoring device which also has the capacity to send live data to healthcare professionals regarding the wound being treated. However, the results from this study are still to be replicated and tested in clinical studies. Although these innovations exhibit much promise by providing more flexible and higher quality care for patients, it is still in its infancy. But, it cannot be left unstated that the power of LED’s is remarkable, not only in their ability to treat but also in being economically beneficial.


Written by Irha Khalid

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