A lot of attention is given to blood oxygen levels, as this can be an important diagnostic indicator for a variety of illnesses and conditions. Another important biometric gets less attention: the amount of oxygen in tissues, such as skin or muscle. Patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) can have low oxygen levels in their extremities, which can lead to serious damage and even amputation. As a result, monitoring of tissue oxygen levels can be critical for some patients.
Two organizations are collaborating to create a smart bandage that will provide continuous monitoring of tissue oxygen levels. One partner is Profusa, which makes optical systems to track tissue chemistry. The other is the Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) Center at North Carolina State University. They recently received a $1.5 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Profusa will provide the sensor expertise, while ASSIST will contribute the thin film electronics that the project will require.
The goal is to create a thin, flexible “bandage reader” that incorporates the electronics and optical sensor components. This will be a disposable device that can adhere to a foot or other extremity and provide continuous monitoring of tissue oxygen levels. The two groups have already collaborated on wearable patches for the continuous and non-invasive monitoring of multiple biomarkers. This new project has the potential of reducing healthcare costs by preventing expensive problems, changing — and saving — lives in the process.