Smart dressing wirelessly detects moisture

Researchers in Italy have developed a new type of smart bandage that can detect moisture levels surrounding wounds and transmit that sensor data wirelessly.

Moisture levels of wounds are one of the most important indicators of activity, with too little or too much moisture indicating potential issues that can affect healing. The team used a conductive polymer called poly(3,4- ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS), fixing this to a gauze using a screen printing technique. They then incorporated the gauze with commercially available bandage materials and embedded RFID tags. The work is published in Frontiers in Physics.

“PEDOT:PSS is an organic semiconducting polymer that can be easily deposited on several substrates as a standard ink,” said study authro Dr Marta Tessarolo, from the University of Bologna.

“We also incorporated a cheap, disposable and bandage-compatible RFID tag, similar to those used for clothing security tags, into the textile patch. The tag can wirelessly communicate moisture level data with a smartphone, allowing healthcare staff to know when a bandage needs to be changed.”

The researchers tested their bandages by exposing them to artificial exudate - the liquid that seeps from wounds - and also exploring different bandage materials and shapes. They found that the bandage was highly sensitive, providing radically different readings between dry, moist and saturated conditions, meaning it has the potential to be a valuable tool in wound management.

“We developed a range of bandages with various layers and different absorption properties and characteristics,” said author Dr Luca Possanzini, also from the University of Bologna.

“The idea is that each type of wound could have its own appropriate dressing, from slowly exuding wounds to highly exuding wounds, such as burns and blisters. However, we will need to further optimize the sensor geometry and determine the appropriate sensor values for optimal healing before we can apply our technology to various types of wounds.”