A group of researchers from the University of Arizona has developed an ultra-thin wireless device that adheres to the surface of the bone and helps doctors track bone health and healing over time. The device was described in an article in the journal Nature Communications.
The researchers noted that fractures associated with diseases such as osteoporosis take several months, on average, to recover. While wireless bone devices have not yet been tested and approved for use in humans, they can already be used to monitor and improve health.
“Being able to constantly monitor the health of the musculoskeletal system is very important,” said Philippe Guthruf, lead author of the study. “With the help of this interface, we are, in fact, installing a computer on a bone. The technology platform allows us to create research tools for scientists to learn how the musculoskeletal system works and use the information gathered for recovery and therapy. ”
The scientists added that because muscles are close to bones and move frequently, it is important that the device is thin enough not to irritate or dislocate surrounding tissues. Therefore, the researchers developed a glue containing calcium particles with an atomic structure similar to bone cells, it is used to anchor electronics to the surface of the bone.
“A paper-thin device can conform to the curvature of bone, forming a tight interface,” said Alex Burton, PhD student in biomedical engineering and one of the first authors of the study. – They also don’t need a battery. Later, the bone grows to the sensor itself. This allows for a permanent connection to the bone and allows measurements to be made over long periods of time. ”
For example, a doctor might attach a device to a broken bone to monitor the healing process. This can be especially helpful for patients with medical conditions such as osteoporosis, as they often have fractures. Knowing how quickly and how well the bone heals can also aid in clinical decision-making.