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This 13-Year-Old Wants to Improve Wound Care with Her Invention

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13-year-old Anushka Naiknaware has just invented a futuristic bandage that can actually alert doctors when it needs to be changed.

Anushka presented her innovative bandage this year at the Google Science Fair, an annual international competition that fosters kids’ scientific inventions in the hopes of winning them scholarships and mentorships.

This invention is significant due to a few factors. First off, it can sometimes prove difficult for doctors to discern when bandages need changing without undoing them repeatedly, which can sometimes make the wound worse. Second, it is important for wounds to remain adequately moist to promote healing, but not being able to tell when bandages run dry can cause unnecessary changings.

With Anushka’s invention, the bandage detects when moisture levels have become depleted.

Tiny monitors alert medical personnel when the bandage has dried out enough, signaling a needed changing. In order to do this, the bandages are embedded with nanoparticles of graphene via ink, printed into fractal patterns within the bandages.

Anushka finished in the top 8 at the fair and won a $15,000 scholarship. She has also won a free trip to Lego world’s headquarters in Denmark, along with a year’s worth of mentoring from an executive at Lego.

Anushka titled her project, “Smart Wound Care for the Future.” In a video describing her project, she explains that she’d been studying nanomaterials and polymers for four years, and was introduced to problems in wound care in her last science competition. She realized that inadequate wound care is actually a prominent issue, as more people die from improperly treated injuries per year than they do of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. After discovering this surprising fact, Anushka said she wanted to find a solution.

Anushka’s bandage allows optimal healing conditions, and also allows a wound to heal much faster than it normally would. The bandage, as she notes, can be used in commercial, military, and hospital settings.

In her spare time, Anushka, a Portland resident, says she loves figure skating, although she doesn’t think she’s too good at it yet (judging by her video, I’d say she’s being modest).

Anushka has told reporters that she plans to use her mentorship prize to figure out how to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for her bandages. If achieved, she wants to have the bandages sold by a company on a large scale so as to benefit as many patients as possible.

Anushka’s invention is a humanitarian feat, and at just 13 years old, I predict that she’s just getting started.

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