Biomask: Improving Facial Burn Treatment for Soldiers in the Field

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Current treatments for facial injuries often lead to disfigurement or speech impediments, but the Biomask could change regenerative medicine.

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It's estimated that 85 percent of injuries to our armed forces in the field cause damage to the extremities or the face. Innovations in regenerative medicine are moving along at an amazing pace, but the common current facial burns treatment typically involves removing damaged areas, followed by skin grafting, which usually leads to disfigurement and the possibility of speech impediments and scarring.

A new project called Biomask, a collaboration between engineers at the University of Texas, Arlington; Northwestern University regenerative medicine specialists; leaders in burn treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center; and consultants Army Institute of Surgical Research seeks to improve burn treatment outcomes with the latest in medical electronics and regenerative medicine.

The Biomask consists of two layers: The top layer is a hard shell that protects the wearer's face and stores the electronic components. The second layer is a polymer mask that will fit around the contours of the face. The polymer also acts as a seal around the wounds which compresses them to prevent lumpy scar formation. The polymer shell is also embedded with a number of sensors and actuators to monitor the healing process and send data to physicians.

While the mask itself will already improve treatment outcomes, Biomask takes it a step further by featuring a network of microtubes and valves in the polymer layer that will constantly deliver therapeutics, such as painkillers, antibiotics, and stem cells to the parts of the face that the onboard sensors determine.

Altogether, this makes Biomask a highly customized and automated 24/7 treatment system that researchers hope will make healing faster and better.


This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.

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