The Institute - June 2021 - 58

" A compression bandage that
This Bandage
Monitors Temperature
and Compression
Near-field communication tags
work with a smartphone app
PATIENTS WITH AN open wound, such
as a bedsore or a foot ulcer, need to be
checked frequently to see how well it is
healing. That can require regular trips
to a doctor's office.
But patients might not have to
make as many of those visits thanks
to a new smart bandage developed
by IEEE Fellow Ravinder Dahiya and
other researchers at the University of
Glasgow. Dahiya is with the university's
Bendable Electronics and Sensing
Technologies group.
The flexible adhesive patch is
3 centimeters by 6 cm and can be used
to apply pressure to help a wound heal.
It is the first bandage to use sensors
that simultaneously measure how much
strain is being put on the skin and the
patient's temperature, which can affect
the healing process. The readings from
the dressing can be sent to a health
care provider via a smartphone app the
researchers developed.
Monitoring wound healing isn't the
only potential application. Dahiya says
the bandage can be used to monitor
breathing and even detect COVID-19
The research was published in the
open-access paper " Smart Bandage
With Wireless Strain and Temperature
Sensors and Batteryless NFC Tag, "
which can be downloaded from the
IEEE Xplore Digital Library.
Hastening healing
Various techniques are used to speed
up the healing process, including using
skin substitutes, as well as electroceuticals
with piezoelectric materials-
based dressings and negative-pressure
therapy, which increase the flow of
blood while keeping the wound moist.
applies just the right pressure could
also hasten healing, " Dahiya says. But
figuring out the correct pressure and
how to monitor body temperature was
a challenge. Studies show that wound
healing is best at a body temperature
between 36° and 38° C.
The team's clear, adhesive bandage
uses two types of sensors and a
batteryless near-field communication
(NFC) tag. One sensor monitors
the patient's temperature while the
other one checks how much strain
is being put on the skin. Transparent
polydimethylsiloxane was used
to make the strain sensor. PDMS is
the most widely used silicon-based
organic polymer because of its versatility.
The NFC tag transmits the data
from the sensors wirelessly to the
smartphone app.
The researchers found the strain
sensor could determine the right
amount of pressure for the compression
bandage, and the temperature
sensor could detect if the patient is
spiking a fever and therefore might
have an infection.
Many uses
Dahiya says the smart bandage also
can be used to check the lung functions
of those with respiratory conditions
such as asthma, as well as people
on ventilators. When the patch is
placed on the patient's chest, its strain
sensor can detect erratic breathing.
The patch could even be used to
help detect coronavirus cases, Dahiya
says, because two major COVID-19
symptoms are difficulty breathing and a
fever. The smartphone app could immediately
notify a health care provider,
speeding up testing and possibly
stopping a sick patient from infecting
The bandage has been tested in the
lab, and its technology readiness level
(TRL) is about a 5, Dahiya says. The TRL
system, which can be used to assess a
technology's maturity, has levels that go
up to 9. A 5 rating means the technology
can be tested outside the lab.
" The smart bandage could be used
The patient's temperature and the strain being put on the skin can be sent to a health
care provider via a smartphone.
by just about anybody, especially frontline
workers, " Dahiya says. " They are
the people who need it most. "
JUNE 2021

The Institute - June 2021

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