We came up with a smart bandage that improves wound management by indicating healing problems like infection.
Healing chronic wounds
Wound healing is a very complex process. Following an injury, the wound upon the surface of the skin begins to heal through a highly coordinated and regulated series of biological processes including haemostasis, inflammation and granulation. Various types of cells are also involved, including fibroblasts and epithelial cells.
Chronic wounds, however, present a much larger challenge. They do not progress through the typical physiological stages of healing making it extremely difficult to monitor the restorative process.
Infection and harmful inflammation is a major cause for poor healing in chronic wounds, such as leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and pressure ulcers, and early detection of an infection within a wound can be difficult.
Unfortunately, many of the signs of infection such as redness, increased temperature, swelling and increased discharge, are subtle and difficult to interpret. This often delays the identification and healing of the wound.
Bandages that detect infection
We have developed a fibre with an intermediate sensor layer made from thermochromic liquid crystalline material.
Thermochromic liquid crystals change their reflected colour based on temperature when illuminated by white light.
When applied onto the human body in the form of a bandage, the fibre visibly exhibits a change in colour or colour gradient from a temperature change as small as 0.5 degrees Celsius, within a range of 25 to 45 degrees Celsius.
This means that healing problems such as infection can be quickly identified.
The sensor fibre comprises an outer layer encapsulating an intermediate sensor layer of thermochromic liquid crystalline material which is transparent, and the filamentary core which provides a contrast to see the change colour in the thermochromic material when there is a change in temperature.
The fibre itself may be woven or knitted into a loose textile product for incorporation into a wound like dressing.
Improving wound management
The thermochromic fibre allows for wounds to be monitored in real time without the need to disturbe the dressing, which is much less invasive for the patient.
Infections can be identified instantly which leads to early treatment and a shorter healing time overall.
The fibre can be used beyond superficial wounds, such as for monitoring cancerous cells.
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