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Tags: electronic | skin | patches | track | health

'Electronic Skin' Patches Track Health

Wednesday, 28 March 2012 11:03 AM EDT

Scientists are developing new “electronic skin” patches that may one day be applied like temporary tattoos to wirelessly monitor a patient’s vital signs, flag illnesses and even deliver treatments.

At a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, Dr. John Rogers detailed the progress he and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are making in developing such skin patches.
He said the devices would eliminate the need for patients to stay be tethered -- by cumbersome wires and pins -- to large machines in a doctor's office or hospital that track the health of their brains, hearts or muscles.
"A key feature of our epidermal electronics is its natural interface to the body, without wires, pins, adhesives or gels, to allow a much more comfortable and functional system," said Rogers. "The technology can be used to monitor brain, heart or muscle activity in a completely noninvasive way, while a patient is at home."
Skin patches are about the thickness of a human hair, but pack full-scale electronic circuits to monitor vital signs that might be transmitted wirelessly to a doctor’s office or hospital.
Rogers said the silicon-based wafer patches are designed to be flexible, to stretch and move with the natural motions of the skin as people go about their daily business. The patches are applied like a temporary tattoo, with water and a backing that peels off.
"We've also figured out how to make the devices operate in a bi-directional way," Rogers explained. "The older devices only measure what's going on in the body. Our newest patch can measure muscle activity and stimulate the muscles. That's useful for rehabilitation after an accident or long periods of bed rest or even for helping people move prosthetic limbs more easily."
A company Rogers co-founded, called mc10, is also putting the patches on medical instruments that go inside the body, where they have the potential to take measurements and even guide surgery.

© HealthDay

Tattoo-like patches can wirelessly monitor patient vital signs, illnesses and deliver treatments.
Wednesday, 28 March 2012 11:03 AM
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