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Bandages which can detect how a wound is healing and send messages back to doctors could be trialled within the next 12 months, scientists have said.The bandages would use real-time 5G technology to monitor what treatment is needed and also keep track of a patient's activity levels.
It forms part of the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City deal which aims to create a 5G test hub for digital innovation.Prof Marc Clement, chairman of the Institute of Life Science (ILS), said: "5G is an opportunity to produce resilient, robust bandwidth that is always there for the purpose of healthcare.
"That intelligent dressing uses nano-technology to sense the state of that wound at any one specific time. "It would connect that wound to a 5G infrastructure and that infrastructure through your telephone will also know things about you - where you are, how active you are at any one time.
"You combine all of that intelligence so the clinician knows the performance of the specific wound at any specific time and can then tailor the treatment protocol to the individual and wound in question."
He added: "Traditional medicine may be where a clinician might see a patient and then prescribe the treatment approach for a month or three months.
"What the future holds is a world where there's the ability to vary the treatment to the individual, the lifestyle and the pattern of life.
The work is being led by Swansea University's Institute of Life Science.
"Sometimes we revere doctors so much that we tell them all is well but all of the evidence is there before them in this 5G world, so the clinician and patient can work together to address the challenge." Experts in nano-technology would develop the tiny sensors while 3D printers at ILS would be used to produce the bandages which would bring down the cost.
Prof Clement said experts at the Welsh Wound Innovation Centre are also involved in the project and trials would go through the Arch wellness and innovation project in south-west Wales where there is a "honey pot" of one million people to carry out such tests.
"What we're creating within this city deal, is an ecosystem that can prove the concept, prove business, manufacture locally and take innovation to a global marketplace," he added.
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