Monitoring and treatment devices can now be drawn directly onto the patient

Monitoring and treatment devices can now be drawn directly onto the patient’s skin

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Natalia Solovieva

Monitoring and treatment devices can now be drawn directly onto the patient's skin

Scientists at the University of Houston (University of Houston, USA) have announced the development of a completely new technology, within which monitoring, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries is performed using
using medical sensors applied directly to the patient’s skin with special ink.

Accurately extracting physiological and physical signals from human skin is critical for health monitoring, disease prevention and treatment, scientists say. Thanks to
direct interaction of electronic devices with the skin can extract information such as the state of the heart, muscles, complex electrical resistance (impedance) and skin hydration.
However, existing devices of wearable electronics – fitness trackers, ECG sensors and a number of other useful sensors, including the latest achievements in the form of flexible and stretchable bioelectronic
patches, able to track the physical activity of the wearer, his muscle signals, heart rate, temperature and moisture indicators of the skin, making it possible to monitor the condition
his health. But all of them have a number of significant drawbacks, the main one of which is high sensitivity to artifacts (errors made during the study) of movement, as well as a lack of
proper adhesion (adhesion) to a biological surface (in this case, to the patient’s skin), especially during movement. All this leads to incorrect interpretation of the results, erroneous
diagnosis and, as a consequence, a significant decrease in the quality of life of patients.

A new type of wearable technology, developed in the United States, is called Drawn-on-skin electronics. Scientists propose to apply various medical sensors and circuits
directly on the patient’s skin. The new technology will allow doctors not only to collect information about his health – to monitor muscle signals, heart rate,
temperature and moisture indicators of the skin – regardless of its physical activity, but also accelerate wound healing.

The technology consists of three different types of special inks with the properties of a conductor, semiconductor and dielectric, as well as a special pen. Multifunctional sensors and circuits –
transistors, strain gauges, temperature sensors, heaters, skin hydration sensors and electrophysiological sensors are “drawn” directly on the human skin using stencils.

Compared to existing wearable and / or printed bioelectronics, Drawn-on-skin electronics offers numerous advantages. So, for its manufacture does not require a complex
specialized equipment, electronic materials can be applied to dynamic active surfaces (patient’s skin), and immunity to motion artifacts is provided without
the need for additional equipment or calculations.

Electrophysiological control of the signal showed Drawn-on-skin electronics immunity to mechanical deformations and movement artifacts, stable operation in the presence of skin secreted
sweat, reliable capture of signals for a long time.

Such sensors are practically not felt by the patient himself. It will not be possible to damage them or remove them from the skin – this was shown by tests for peeling, rubbing and deformation of the skin. Any defects in devices
Drawn-on-skin electronics is very easy to repair, while damage to other wearable devices requires a complete replacement.

Finally, electrical stimulation by electronics applied to the skin has been shown to have beneficial effects on skin damage. Drawn-on-skin electronics electrodes easy
adjust to any shape and size of the wound, the use of pulsed electrical stimulation contributes to their rapid healing, especially in the phases of tissue proliferation and remodeling. In the example,
cited by scientists in the description of the technology, there are skin wounds from comminuted wounds, which soldiers often receive during military operations. The complete healing process of such wounds can take from
several days to several months.

All this makes such solutions almost indispensable for personalized treatment, as well as in situations where access to complex equipment is impossible.

A detailed description of the developed technology and the tests performed are presented in the article “Ultra-conformal drawn-on-skin electronics for multifunctional motion artifact-free sensing and
point-of-care treatment “of the journal” Nature communications “.

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