Polish students have designed a ‘smart sensor’ dressing that tells doctors how well a wound is healing

Adriana Lima
By Adriana Lima 4 Min Read
The lab technician is holding the SmartHEAL bandage, a device that can monitor the healing of a wound without removing the dressing. © Reuters

Three Polish students were awarded this year’s prestigious James Dyson Design Award for developing an intelligent sensor for dressings that indicates how well a patient’s wound is healing.

The SmartHEAL device is a dressing that monitors the condition of chronic wounds and can detect infection without being removed and destroying tissue.

“Every time you take off the patch, you introduce new pathogens, risk infection, disrupt tissue, slow down the healing process, and most importantly, it’s very uncomfortable for the patients. It’s painful,” explained Tomasz Raczynski, one of the three Warsaw University of Technology PhD students behind the invention.

“With SmartHeal you can see underneath the dressing without taking it off,” he added.

SmartHEAL provides doctors and patients with a key piece of data – a wound’s pH level – that can tell them how a wound is healing.

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The team says that when they heard about the link between a wound’s pH and the healing process, they realized they could solve a problem that affects about 2 percent of people in developed countries, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. of the United States. .

“Our invention is based on a pH sensor integrated in the plaster and this pH sensor allows us to check the state of the chronic wound and informs the user if he needs to change the dressing or leave the dressing on the wound,” Dominik Baraniecki, a another team member, he told Reuters.

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Each dressing has an electronic pH monitor printed on the fabric and a radio frequency identification (RFID) antenna that can communicate with a cell phone or tablet placed near it.

The team says the system they built can be mass-produced with current textile industry processes at a cost of pennies each.

“The best part of all this is that even with our prototypes we use the same production technology that is used in the textile industry, in mass production,” said Piotr Walter, an electrochemist and one of its creators.

Unlike wounds that heal at a normal rate, chronic wounds need to be kept covered, which makes it difficult to ascertain if they need attention without bothering him to examine their condition.

The most common mistake in wound healing is changing the dressing too often, which can lead to serious illness or death, the team says.

They plan to use the $35,000 (€33,751) prize money to begin clinical trials and hope to complete the certification process in time to start selling SmartHEAL dressings in 2025.

For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.

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