Apr 17, 2017 | By Benedict

Researchers at Swansea University in the UK are developing 3D printed “smart bandages” that can precisely monitor the healing of a wound. The bandages would use 5G data to transfer information about a wound to computers or other smart devices.

In order to see how a wound is healing up, it is generally necessary to remove any obstructing bandages and dressing. That familiar practice could soon be a thing of the past, however, because researchers at Swansea University in the UK are developing 3D printed “smart bandages” that can do the observation for you.

The researchers say that these incredible futuristic swathes, packed with sensors and 5G data transfer technology, could help doctors track the healing progress of a patient’s wound, reducing the need for constant checkups while providing immediate warnings if the injury appears to be infected or otherwise a matter of concern. The work is being led by Swansea University's Institute of Life Science.

According to the Swansea researchers, monitoring of the wound would be carried out by tiny sensors developed by nanotechnology experts, while 3D printers would be used to fabricate the bandages in an affordable manner. Trials of the futuristic bandages could be carried out through the Arch wellness and innovation project in south west Wales, where up to one million volunteers would be able to help.

Professor Marc Clement, chairman of Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science, told the BBC that a 3D printed smart bandage “would connect [the] wound to a 5G infrastructure” that would “know things about you: where you are, how active you are at any one time.” The professor added that the bandages would enable doctors to monitor “the performance of the specific wound at any specific time,” allowing them to “tailor the treatment protocol to the individual and wound in question.”

The 3D printed smart bandages are part of a larger project to implement 5G technologies in the region. Last month, UK prime minister Theresa May signed off a £1.3 billion investment in the Swansea Bay City Region, part of which involves creating a 5G test hub for digital innovation. “5G is an opportunity to produce resilient, robust bandwidth that is always there for the purpose of healthcare,” Clement explained.

Excitingly, these 3D printed smart bandages could be trialled within the next 12 months, putting Swansea University on the map as a hotbed for medical innovation while providing patients with next-level healthcare.

“Traditional medicine may be where a clinician might see a patient and then prescribe the treatment approach for a month or three months,” Clement said. “What the future holds is a world where there's the ability to vary the treatment to the individual, the lifestyle, and the pattern of life.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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