Pressure-Sensor-Integrated Smart Bandage for Improving Adherence to Offloading Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Xueju "Sophie" Wang, PhD and Carolyn Crumley, DNP

Principal Investigators

Xueju "Sophie" Wang, PhD
Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Carolyn Crumley, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, CWOCN
Adjunct Assistant Professor
CNS Program of Study
Sinclair School of Nursing

Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFUs) are hard-to-heal wounds that affect millions of people in the U.S. A mainstay of all DFU therapy is mechanical offloading to relieve pressure and stress on the affected foot, which can be accomplished through instructing the patient to be non-weight bearing, the use of a removable devices/adaptive footwear or application of nonremovable total contact casting by the healthcare provider.

However, patients’ adherence to offloading recommendations has been measured as low as 2.2%, which poses a big challenge for the effective treatment of DFUs. To improve adherence to offloading recommendations, the team is developing a pressure-sensor-integrated Smart Bandage system that can continuously monitor pressure on DFUs and provide real-time feedback to patients and clinicians through a cloud-based application on their computers and smart devices. Such Smart Bandages will significantly improve patients’ adherence to offloading, while accelerating healing rates, and saving costs. In addition, this technology will enable clinicians to track the pressure record of their patients and quickly pinpoint higher-risk individuals with inadequate offloading who need additional monitoring and care. Thus, Smart Bandages also have the potential to be of great value for healthcare facilities and payers in reducing the overall cost of treating DFUs.

Smart Monitor for the NICU: Adaptive System for Detection and Prediction of Apnea, Desaturation, and Bradycardia in Premature and Low Birth Weight Infants

Dr. Fales, PhD and Dr. Pardalos, MD

Principal Investigators

Roger Fales, PhD
Associate Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

John Pardalos, MD
Neonatology (Newborn Intensive Care)

In the US, a significant number of babies are born each year either prematurely or with low birthweight, resulting in over 60,000 babies admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). Many of these babies require supplemental oxygen, and the ability to tightly control the amount of oxygen delivered to them is important.

Alarms occur when blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), heart rate, and respiratory rate are outside safe ranges. However, significant interpretation of noisy signals by nurses is required to determine if adverse events such as bradycardia (low heart rate), apnea (low respiratory rate), hyperoxia (high SpO2 which can result in blindness), or hypoxia (low SpO2 which can result in brain and other tissue damage) have occurred as true conditions, or to catch conditions missed by existing equipment, and currently, there are no early warning and detection systems that can aid in the decision-making process. The team is developing an adaptive model-based software that will use signals in existing bedside monitoring equipment to reliably determine and predict adverse events common to NICU patients. The software will be designed to alert nurses to occurrences such as SpO2 desaturation, and predict events so action can be taken to help the patients avoid or quickly recover from the adverse episodes. Reducing the number and duration of these incidences will allow the premature and low birth weight infants to develop quicker and spend less time in the NICU, reducing healthcare costs and improving outcomes.

Tiger Patch for Comfortable, Adhesive‐Free, Long‐Lasting and Accurate Cardiac Monitoring

Dr. Yan, PhD, R. Lin, PhD, Dr. Gautam, MD

Principal Investigators

Zheng Yan, PhD

Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering

Jian Lin, PhD
Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Sandeep Gautam, MD
Cardiovascular Medicine

Arrhythmia, a heart disease that causes irregularities in heartbeat, affects over 11 million people in the US. Electrocardiography (ECG) is pivotal for diagnosing arrhythmia, and around 4.6 million of these diagnostic tests are performed annually. Current electrodes/patches used with ECG monitoring devices are non‐porous and are designed to stick to human skin with adhesives.

These electrodes/patches constrain sweat evaporation and irritate the skin, making them uncomfortable to wear. Moreover, they are not durable and suffer from signal loss after long‐term (2‐3 days) use. On an average, around 25% patients who use these devices for long‐term monitoring and diagnosis, return poor unacceptable data or are unable to comply with usage due to skin irritation and itching. Poor diagnostic accuracy results in not only poor healthcare outcomes but also financial burdens for both patients and payers. To address this unmet clinical need, the team is developing Tiger Patch, a cardiac monitoring device with porous, adhesive‐free, long‐lasting (7 days or longer) electrodes/patches that will provide a comfortable, accurate, and irritation/inflammation‐free way of monitoring ECG for arrhythmia diagnosis and management.

Golden Gullet: Sustainably Synthesized, Gold Nanoparticle-based, Ready-to-use, Palatable and Edible Contrast Agent for X-ray Swallow Studies

Dr. Krishnaswamy, PhD and Dr. Lever, PhD

Principal Investigators

Kiruba Krishnaswamy, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Biomedical, Biological & Chemical Engineering

Teresa Lever, PhD, MS, CCC-SLP
Associate Professor
Department of Otolaryngology

Approximately 10-15 million Americans undergo X-ray swallow tests each year for diagnosis of dysphagia (swallowing impairment), a condition that affects people of all ages and is predominantly caused by neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia, as well as premature birth and advanced age.

Essential to this test, which is conducted in tandem by a radiologist and a speech-language pathologist (SLP), is an oral contrast agent (typically barium) that is mixed with food and liquid to visualize swallowing in real-time via a computer monitor. A major problem with barium is that it significantly alters the taste/texture/viscosity of foods/liquids it is mixed with, resulting in altered swallowing behaviors that may lead to inaccurate diagnosis – either false positive or false negative results. Further, intermittent product backorder due to the current global shortage of barium can result in delayed testing and treatment. To address this critical need for a palatable, sustainable contrast agent to improve dysphagia diagnosis, the team is developing “Golden Gullet” which contains gold nanoparticles synthesized and encapsulated using food industry byproducts. This new contrast agent can be used to formulate a stable liquid, powder, or paste product for use in X-ray swallow tests. Based on this technology, the team envisions creating a “radiographic swallow test kit” consisting of palatable, ready-to-eat food/liquid items containing Golden Gullet contrast that can be used for standardized and more accurate diagnosis of dysphagia.