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Wireless, Battery-Free Bandage Delivers Electrical Signals to Speed Wound Healing by 30%

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Feb 2023
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Image: First transient electronic bandage speeds healing by 30% (Photo courtesy of Northwestern University)
Image: First transient electronic bandage speeds healing by 30% (Photo courtesy of Northwestern University)

Diabetes can cause nerve damage, leading to numbness as a result of which, diabetics can fail to notice a simple blister or small scratch which can go untreated. In addition, high glucose levels cause capillary walls to thicken which slows down blood circulation, making it tougher for such wounds to heal. In such cases, a small injury can evolve into a dangerous wound. Now, researchers who were curious to see if electrical stimulation therapy could help close such stubborn wounds have developed a first-of-its-kind small, flexible, stretchable bandage that accelerates healing by delivering electrotherapy directly to the wound site. Injuries are known to disrupt the body’s normal electrical signals. By applying electrical stimulation, the body’s normal signals can be restored, thus attracting new cells to migrate to the wound bed.

In an animal study, the new bandage developed by researchers at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, USA) healed diabetic ulcers 30% faster than in mice without the bandage. The bandage also actively monitors the healing process and then dissolves harmlessly - electrodes and all - into the body after it is not needed. The new device could benefit patients with diabetes who have ulcers that can cause various complications, including amputation of limbs or even death.

“When a person develops a wound, the goal is always to close that wound as quickly as possible,” said Northwestern’s Guillermo A. Ameer, who co-led the study. “Our new bandage is cost-effective, easy to apply, adaptable, comfortable and efficient at closing wounds to prevent infections and further complications.”

“Although it’s an electronic device, the active components that interface with the wound bed are entirely resorbable,” said Northwestern’s John A. Rogers, who co-led the study. “As such, the materials disappear naturally after the healing process is complete, thereby avoiding any damage to the tissue that could otherwise be caused by physical extraction.”

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