September 28, 2016
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Justin Sacks treats pressure sores that refuse to heal. Now he thinks he’s found a way to prevent the wounds from forming in the first place.
Sacks teamed with students in the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID) to create the Mercury Patch, a wound dressing equipped with pressure sensors.
Patients can develop bedsores in as little as two hours as pressure builds on vulnerable areas, like heels or buttocks. Clinicians try to prevent the injuries by moving patients and by protecting skin with breathable foam and gauze bandages.
The Mercury Patch adds pressure-detecting sensors to those bandages without changing the feel. Bluetooth technology transmits pressure information wirelessly to nursing stations, phones or other destinations, helping clinicians decide when to move patients and showing whether the repositioning relieves pressure.
In May, the innovation placed second out of about 25 biomedical projects in CBID’s annual Design Day. CBID is part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which is shared between the schools of engineering and medicine.
Biomedical engineering students Kelly Lacob, Sean Mattson, Matthew Nojoomi, Madeline Wilson, Alison Wong and Sam Zschack worked with Sacks and other advisers to create the device. In June, the team won a $100,000 Johns Hopkins-Coulter Translational Partnership grant to continue development.
Sacks, a CBID faculty member, expects to conduct clinical trials at The Johns Hopkins Hospital within a year and says the patches could be on the market by 2018. “It’s a simple tool to monitor pressure, so health care providers in the inpatient setting react accordingly,” he says.