The Department of Engineering Technology's Luca Pollonini studies how light can be used to see changes in the body. He has created sensors that use light to detect the onset of a condition that impacts millions of Americans each year–pressure ulcers.
"It happens all the time in both clinical and home environments," Pollonini said. "When an ulcer develops, it is painful, slow to heal, expensive to treat and it becomes a source of sepsis."
In patients with limited mobility, blood flow and oxygen are cut off when a bone puts too much pressure on the skin, causing the tissue to break down. Pollonini's technology uses an array of light sensors that can alert when a pressure ulcer is about to develop. These sensors may be embedded in a bandage or the patient's very bed.
"We shine light into the body, a few centimeters into the skin," he said. "And the first detectable, significant change will trigger an alert to care givers that the patient needs to be relocated."
Pollonini currently is partnering with physicians at Methodist Hospital in Houston to advance this research and eventually make the sensors available to health care providers.
"With any disease, when it is detected early the outcome will be better, and that is what we hope to enable in this research," Pollonini said. "The goal for us—for the University of Houston—is to produce research that benefits the humanity."
Article adapted from original posted by Houston Public Media