NASA is working on a new type of bandage that can dramatically increase recovery time for those who are wounded. Most people know that blood flow is essential to the wound healing process. Heat is one way to increase the amount of blood flow to the skin. However, in many applications, access to warm water or a heating pad is impossible. Obviously, space would be one environment where access to care may be limited.
According the NASA, the device would be made using a fluoropolymer known as polyvinylidene fluoride or PVDF. Now as you probably know, PVDF is highly durable and is the material of choice for chemical resistance and high purity applications. It is used in food processing, air/water environmental sampling, aerospace and automotive applications, and much more. You can learn more about our PVDF products currently in the market here.
However, NASA believes PVDF can be used as an electroactive agent to generate heat. It notes that it is highly piezoelectric when poled, which means it can generate an electric charge from applied mechanical stress. The skin creates its own electric pulsations when stretched, so the combination of the body's natural healing processes with the piezoelectric properties of the bandage can expedite healing in extreme situations. In addition to that, the fluoropolymer's durability can provide protection to the wound site to prevent infection.
NASA says that the electric bandage can be used in a wide variety of applications once tested and brought to market:
- On the battlefield to attend to wounded military personnel and civilians
- In hospitals where patients have undergone surgery or suffered a serious wound
- In space where astronauts may require a quick and effective medical solution for a wound
Space will be the first environment where the electric bandage will be used after the patent has been developed and tested, but it's reasonable to believe that it could be used in many other scenarios in the very near future, highlighting the many benefits fluoropolymers offer various industries.