Adhesives Enable Developments in Wearable Medical Devices

Posted on 8/28/2018 8:58:05 AM By ASC

Wearable medical devices that gather valuable data and enable patients to take control of their health are becoming ubiquitous, and it’s advances in the adhesives industry that has made this trend possible. For some, it’s just a matter of tracking fitness data, while for others, the data helps them to manage medical conditions such as diabetes.

Adhesives are helping manufacturers to make devices lighter, more compact and more comfortable to wear. When the device must monitor health conditions, the less obtrusive it is, the better. Thin, breathable films for attaching devices to skin help to keep these devices discreet. 

Fitness-oriented devices are trendy, and most people are happy to wear them openly – that means that many of them use a simple wristband for attachment. But when it comes to monitoring a medical condition, wristband-based devices aren’t able to gather accurate enough data. To do so, the fit would need to be tight, and if there is movement of the device, the data could be affected. That’s where devices that are stuck to skin enter the equation. They can be attached at an optimal site for accurate data collection and needn’t be tailored for a good fit.

The chosen adhesive must be able to last long enough for user convenience and to help the device remain durable and resilient despite being exposed to the occasional light impact or pull when it is caught on clothing. The part of the body where the device is to be worn has some influence here. For example, the upper arm is a discreet spot for medical device placement but will be subject to catching on clothing and impacts. An adhesive skirt helps to solve the problem.

Flexibility is also important, and even the electronics in some devices are designed to flex with movement. And with skin giving off moisture, breathability is another key property for medical device adhesives.

Wearable devices must be able to withstand active lifestyles and exposure to moisture, and once again, adhesives solutions are of help. A non-woven, acrylic based adhesive with a breathable backing helps to keep devices attached and intact despite this kind of wear and tear.

Skin is a very variable substrate since everybody has their own skin-type, and skin is constantly replacing itself while sloughing off the outer layer. Within two weeks, many of the cells to which the adhesive originally bonded will have sloughed off. At the same time, breathability is crucial to comfort. Without it, the skin whitens and softens and is prone to injury when the user removes the device. Naturally, the adhesive itself should not cause any adverse skin reactions. Incorrect adhesive choices can cause rashes, blisters, or even strip off or tear the skin. 

Adhesives for wearable medical devices are continuously developing and changing to meet the needs of medical device manufacturers and the patients who will use their products. Adhesives manufacturers are striving to help wearable device designers to be aware of their options and make the right choices.


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