Swansea University’s smart bandages to be trialled “within 12 months”

Swansea University scientists have said bandages which can detect how a wound is healing and send messages back to doctors could be trialled within the next twelve months (BBC News, 2017). The bandages would use real time 5G technology to monitor what treatment is needed and also keep track of a patient’s activity levels.

The work is being led by Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science (ILS). It forms part of the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal which aims to create a 5G test hub for digital innovation.

Professor Marc Clement, chairman of the ILS, said “5G is an opportunity to produce resilient, robust bandwidth that is always there for the purpose of healthcare. That intelligent dressing uses nano-technology to sense the state of that wound at any one specific time. It would connect that wound to a 5G infrastructure and that infrastructure through your telephone will also know things about you – where you are, how active you are at any one time. You combine all of that intelligence so the clinician knows the performance of the specific wound at any specific time and can then tailor the treatment protocol to the individual and wound in question.

“Traditional medicine may be where a clinician might see a patient and then prescribe the treatment approach for a month or three months. 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. Sometimes we revere doctors so much that we tell them all is well but all of the evidence is there before them in this 5G world, so the clinician and patient can work together to address the challenge.”

Experts in nanotechnology would develop the tiny sensors while 3D printers at ILS would be used to produce the bandages which would bring down the cost.

Marc Clement said experts at the Welsh Wound Innovation Centre are also involved in the project and trials would go through the ARCH programme in South West Wales where there is a “honey pot” of one million people to carry out such tests. He said “What we’re creating within this city deal, is an ecosystem that can prove concept, prove business, manufacture locally and take innovation to a global marketplace.”

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