In a development that will be of immense help to those seriously injured or those recovering from a surgery, NASA has revealed a breakthrough in healing with a bandage that can heal wounds quickly.
Made of electroactive material, the new bandage not only heals quickly but also keeps the wounds from getting infected. Developed by NASA using a method that the space agency invented earlier, the bandage has to be applied to an exterior wound and using low level electrical stimulation generated within the material itself, it promotes as well as speeds up the wound healing process and protects it from infection.
The US space agency NASA has developed a new electroactive material that when applied on wounds can speed up the healing process as well as keep infections at bay.
The key here is the electrical stimulation that is generated by the bandage. Scientists at NASA have used polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF, to prepare the bandage. PVDF is a thermoplastic fluoropolymer and has high piezoelectric properties when poled. The bandage is made of an electroactive material that is stimulated by the heat of the body and the pressure of cell growth, thus no external power source is required.
NASA relied on a fabrication method which it used to electrospin highly aligned polymer fiber material. According to NASA this particular method enables the controlling of alignment as well as porosity of fibers for mats thereby enabling scientists to build a range of things including new tissue engineering scaffolds, membrane filters, textiles, and embedded sensors and actuators.
To create the bandage a pump is made to slowly expels polymer solution through the tip of the spinneret at a set flow rate as a positive charge is applied. The auxiliary electrode, which is negatively charged, is positioned opposite the charged spinneret. The disparity in charges creates an electric field that effectively controls the behavior of the polymer jet as it is expelled from the spinneret; it ultimately controls the distribution of the fibers and mats formed from the polymer solution as it lands on the rotating collection mandrel.
NASA says that its new material that can be given the shape of a bandage has ample of applications including on battlefields for the wounded military personnel, patients who have undergone surgery, patients who may have suffered from serious wounds and injured astronauts in space. Some of the benefits of this electroactive bandage as highlighted by NASA are: it combines healing and wound protection into one single bandage; it speeds up the healing process and is an ideal alternative to electrical stimulation devices for accelerated wound healing which have been known to cause complications including illness and amputation.
NASA is optimistic that its healing bandage could be used in difficult to reach areas and will provide a more wider window to time to transport patients from remote areas to places with adequate medical facilities. Another area where NASA believes its bandage will find high applicability is manned missions to Mars and possibly other planets where medical facilities will be almost non-existent or of very low level.