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Smart Bandages: First aid that can talk to your doctor and deliver medical treatment


Coming soon to an injury near you, smart bandages - first aid that can talk to your doctor and even deliver medical treatment.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (Singer) I am stuck on Band-Aid brand 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me.

SCHMITZ: Think of them as high-tech cousins to the Band-Aids you put on your scraped knee as a kid.

GEOFFREY GURTNER: It looks kind of like a gel Band-Aid with electronic circuits on the top.


Dr. Geoffrey Gurtner chairs the department of surgery at the University of Arizona. He's among the many researchers developing smart bandages. He's working on one with Stanford University.

GURTNER: Our particular bandage is meant to sense impending infection, and then to deliver therapy to prevent the infection.

SCHMITZ: His smart bandage treats wounds with electrical pulses.

GURTNER: Other bandages might deliver antibiotics remotely, or light as the modality for therapy.

SCHMITZ: The Pentagon is funding Gurtner's research. It hopes the bandages could help treat wounded soldiers, and others, during war.

GURTNER: There's a lot of interest in devices that can be carried by the field medics that can deliver some of those therapies on the battlefield.

MARTIN: Smart bandages could one day help diagnose and treat postoperative infections, but Gurtner says that's a ways off. The first generation of devices, he says, should start hitting the market in two to three years.

SCHMITZ: So, Michel, are you a fan of this? Would you use this - these smart bandages?

MARTIN: I do not like smart anything.

SCHMITZ: (Laughter).

MARTIN: I think I would personally like these devices to teach people things like please and thank you and not to cut into me at traffic without signaling. That's what I'd like.

SCHMITZ: Those are lofty goals, Michel.

MARTIN: I know.


NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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