Most of us use fitness and medical wearables today. These amazing devices can sustain the rigors of everyday life. A fall to the floor or a drop of liquid does not keep these devices from working or fulfilling their purpose.
Whether consumers use them for everyday purposes, or diagnostic testing requires using them for limited use, medical wearables must be capable of withstanding general wear and tear, disinfecting, and cleaning. Multiple patients may use the same medical wearable In the course of their lifetime. So, if they are to last, they must be capable of inherently protecting themselves from contaminants and liquids, radiation, and impact from hard objects and surfaces.
For many people, a wearable is either a FitBit or an Apple Watch. However, apart from these popular consumer wearables, there are several other small medical devices that are necessary for evaluating patients and monitoring them for short- or long-term, such as for heart-related disorders like cardiac arrhythmias.
Transdermal patches are wearable devices that deliver extended-release medication. Typically, patients wear them for long periods, requiring them to balance breathability with adhesive hold, while being comfortable for the wearer. It is also necessary that the materials in the device do not interact negatively with the pharmaceuticals and medicines that the device will be delivered to the wearer.
Nowadays, it is common to find microfluidic diagnostic devices such as for diabetic testing with blood glucose strips. These track biomarkers like glucose and pH levels at molecular levels of sweat, blood, and other fluids. These small and intricate devices with sensors typically collect data from the wearer. Such devices contain printed flex circuits, sensors, electrodes, and batteries.
There is a broad category known as wearable biometric monitoring devices for tracking biometric markers. These markers include parameters like heart rate, temperature, movement, and respiration, among many others. These are devices like blood pressure monitors, continuous glucose monitors, and sleep trackers. Apart from the need for these devices to stick to the user with adhesives, they possess the functionality and the ability to wirelessly transmit information that it collects. Apart from the standard internal components like flex circuits, sensors, electrodes, and batteries, these devices also contain devices and circuits for wireless transmission and reception.
Medical wearables typically contain critical components like sealing gaskets. These are necessary not only for keeping out unwanted contaminants, but they must also be safe for contact with the human body and skin—depending on where they are located in use. Manufacturers use 3D printers for fabricating orthotics and prosthetics, and they use fireproof sealing gaskets. However, sealing gaskets used in medical wearables are made of different materials, as they must come in contact with bodily fluids, human tissue, drugs, and medical fluids.
May requirements guide the selection of materials for medical wearables. For instance, sealing gaskets may need to conduct electricity, be flame-resistant, and at the same time, be protective against electrostatic discharge. Typically, they belong to a wide spectrum of elastomers and polymers. Whatever the material used, it must be durable. For medical wearables, it is essential they consider how people live, accommodate the shape of the wearer, and do it for long periods continuously.