A smart 7th grader designs even a smarter bandage! A smart bandage that detects the moisture levels and signals when it needs to be changed has helped the student to awe and impress the judges of the Google Science Fair.
Wounds covered by bandages heal faster because the epithelial cells can move in a moist environment whereas wounds exposed to air dry up and form scabs that slow the healing process. However changing bandages too after and not frequently enough can lead to infection or slow down the healing process.
The 13-year-old, Anushka Naiknaware, came up with addressing a chip of sensors that could detect the amount moisture in the bandage so that the doctors exactly know when to change it. The dressing allows the wound to heal as quickly as possible as well as virtually illuminating the possibility of any infection. She uses ink-jet printers to make the bandages and carbon nanoparticles to create a conductive water-based ink to fill the ink jet cartridges. It’s an environmentally harmless and cost-effective way to produce the smart bandages.
The bandage uses biopolymer chitosan with carbon nanoparticles to reduce bleeding and measure moisture levels in the wound. Chitosan is extracted from chitin which is found in crustacean shells. It is widely used in medicine to reduce bleeding and as an antibacterial agent. The moisture sensors in the bandage were created by printing a fracto-pattern using ink containing nanoparticle conductive carbon and active charcoal nanoparticles. A battery and blue tooth chips are put on top of the bandage and are covered by normal bandage adhesive layer. When the moisture level is high, electrons inside the bandage experience less resistance. When the bandage dries up, the electrons detect much higher resistance. The change in resistance is noted and can wirelessly transmit to a mobile device which then prompts the user to change the bandages. The invention by Anushka Naiknaware has earned her a $15000 scholarship with a free trip to Lego Headquarters in Denmark and a year of entrepreneurship mentoring from a Lego executive on how to get FDA approval for her invention.
Anushka calls it the “smart wound care for the future”. She realized that more people died of injury than they die of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. So she wanted to find a solution for it. It can be used in a military setting, in a commercial setting or in a hospital. For people with chronic wounds, it cuts down their bills; it also reduces emotional stress for them not to mention the pain associated with it. The wound heals faster and it improves the whole wound care management. It has been a noteworthy issue but still hadn’t been resolved until Anushka’s effort.