A research study has come out with a smart band-aid that could potentially be a game changer in beating Ebola. The deadly disease of Ebola has been declared an epidemic and has been wreaking havoc in Africa in the recent past. Though the international community has promised support to countries in Africa that are affected by this deadly epidemic, a lot of people in the continent are succumbing to Ebola due to lack of hospital infrastructure, sanitation, and medicines. Every week a small number of patients are being flown to the United States for their treatment and to help find a cure or a vaccine.
However, the situation in Africa is grim. The healthcare employees there are looking after multiple cases of Ebola patients at the same time. The medical officers are finding it difficult to come up with any quick recovery antidote as a solution. They are also trying to make sure that the caretakers and nurses that look after Ebola patients are completely protected from getting infected.
Research for a technology which could provide a much-needed shot in the arm in the fight against Ebola has been ongoing. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has shared details about the research for a better equipped and developed biomedical suit and a wearable sensor using multi-sense memory. These two innovative devices are the latest entrants in the arsenal of USAID in combating issues related to health, nutrition, disaster response, and world poverty.
USAID was one of the first responders to natural disasters like the 2011 tsunami in Japan, Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, as well as during the spread of Ebola epidemic. They have received more than 1500 biomedical suits. Reportedly the suit is a result of months of hard work and research by Johns Hopkins laboratory. The biomedical suit is a single piece garment and it takes less than a couple of minutes to wear. It has a built-in cooling system and a de-fogging feature.
The suits are expected to reach Africa in a few months from now. However, some of the features of the new biomedical suits are expected to be sent to Africa much sooner. The paramedics and doctors would still face some basic difficulties in using medical equipment while wearing the new suit. For example, use of a stethoscope is impossible for the doctors while examining an Ebola patient. Doctors have been waiting for a smart band-aid kind of product that could prove to be a game changer in treating patients.
The use of wearable sensor using multi-sense memory or the memory patch would make examination and treatment of Ebola patients a lot easier for the doctors. The ‘smart band-aid’ as the doctors like to call it, is a bendable patch which is programmed with sensors that hooks up to the chest bone of the patient with its band-aid like stickiness. This gives the doctors the baseline reading of the patient’s oxygen saturation, temperature, and heart rate. The patch also notes any changes in the patient’s vital ratings. The sensors are dispensable once used and would most likely be burnt to rule out any reuse.
The smart band-aid will also help the doctors by enabling them to supervise the Ebola patient’s vital ratings from a secured and safe area. The beta version of the smart band-aid has an attached USB cable which transmits data. However, the updated versions are expected to be compatible with Bluetooth technology and will allow the doctors to oversee all the Ebola patients inside a shelter from their monitors. The cost of the smart band-aid is expected to be close to $100 each and its battery would last for around 10 days. USAID is considering the smart band-aid a game changer in the fight against Ebola.
By Ankur Sinha