"Pinging" the Wound? How intelligent dressings may be in the offing

We have worked for a long time (and have been interested even longer) with wireless/wearable technologies to create what we call a “personal health network”. Some of our colleagues within the NHS in the UK may be taking this one step further:

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Boffins’ innovative dressing to ‘revolutionise’ wound treatment

A three-year research project being led by Cranfield University is set to revolutionise the way in which wounds are monitored and treated by developing the world’s first ‘smart’ wound dressings.

It is aiming to embed wireless sensors into dressings so that clinicians can find out how the wound is healing without having to remove them. They will be tailored particularly towards treating diabetic ulcers, burns, lesions and pressure sores, and will use odour, moisture and temperature sensors to detect signs of infection and whether healing is taking place.

Readings can be taken from a hospital bed or from the patient’s home, reducing the need for hospital visits.

Professor Seamus Higson of Cranfield Health said: “Many dressings are replaced for no reason other than to inspect the wound. What is often needed is an early warning should intervention be needed.

“Our ‘smart’ dressing will register the state of the injury without having to remove the dressing, meaning less contact with infection and less disruption to the healing process.

“Some 80 per cent of the chronic wounds that don’t heal are related to diabetic conditions, with five per cent of the NHS budget being spent on wound healing.

“This project is very exciting as it has the potential to reduce the enormous amount of discomfort that wounds can bring, improve the healing process and, in some cases, the quality of life for patients. We hope this technology will be at the clinical trials stage within two years.”

Later in the project, Professor Higson will be working with Cranfield Health colleagues Professor Richard Aspinall and Dr Frank Davis to investigate the possibility of feeding cells into wounds to increase the speed of the healing process.

The project has received £1.5m of funding from the Technology Strategy Board and is being undertaken with the Wound Healing Institute at Cardiff University; Microarray, manufactures of micro-electrode arrays for use within chemical and biosensors; and Toumaz Technology, developers of wireless body monitoring technologies.

David G. Armstrong

Dedicated to amputation prevention, wound healing, diabetic foot, biotechnology and the intersection between medical devices and consumer electronics.

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