Medical or healthcare textiles constitute one of the highest growing sectors in the technical textile market due to the increased use of textile materials across healthcare and medical products ranges such as prostheses used in permanent body implants, the scaffolds used in culturing tissue, bandage materials, and even simple gauzes. The use of textile products across medical practice and human hygiene remains widespread and based on basic textile properties such as filtering, flexibility, lightness, softness, etc.
The development of new intelligent textile products and the expansion in implantable devices, bandaging, and pressure garments, and healing and controlled disease have played a significant role in advancing medical textiles. The increased demand for medical textiles has been caused by the present-day societal changes such as hazards of civilization and human activity such as sports and transport accidents, diseases, fire and cold, the need to increase the human lifespan, and changing population sizes. This has also led to the growth in studies and research into medical polymers and textile materials worldwide.
Recent years have seen tremendous growth in Nano-techniques, which has championed medical innovations such as Nanofibre-based products and Nano-coated materials. The choice of nano-based products and the latest medical textiles was made based on the following features and applications.
Nanofibers have a number of unique properties such as a lighter weight, the diameter porosity of the nanoscale fiber structure, film thinness, and a high surface area to volume ratio, which makes it more attractive for medical applications. Nanofibers also have a broad application as engineering scaffolds in the field of tissue engineering due to their porous nature, which allows a wide range of distribution of pore size. Other notable applications of nanofibers include carrying drugs to specific sites, bone regeneration, and wound dressing.
In 2000, the annual global consumption of Medical Textiles was at 1.5M tons, with a growth rate of 4.6% annually. The size of the Indian medical textiles market in 2003 stood at INR 14.8 Billion and was expected to reach INR 23.3B by 2008, a growth rate of 8& p.a.
The classification of medical and healthcare products based on their use can be done using the following areas:
- Elasticity Free from contamination or impurities
- Air permeability
- Good dimensional stability
- Resistance to micro-organisms, acids, and alkali
- Requirements of textile material for medical applications
- Extra Corporal devices such as art. kidney
- Implantable materials, such as art. Joints and sutures etc
- Hygiene material
- Wound care material
- Bandaging and pressure garment
- Barrier material for infection control.
Uses of Medical Textiles
Medical textiles are the products primarily used for biological and medical applications such as hygiene, clinical, and first aid purposes. They include all textile materials used across hygienic and health applications across medical and consumer markets. Therefore, medical textile products have considerable variations based on their unit value and product performance. Additionally, medical products are disposable due to the nature of their application. The growing use and demand for textiles across various applications are likely to lead to significant fiber consumption growth in terms of volume.
Traditional applications of medical textiles include belts, ropes, beddings and covers, breathing masks, wipes, orthoses and prostheses, braces, diapers, and wound care products.
Innovative textile products
Unlike traditional textile products, the latest innovative textile products can play a critical role in increasing patient comfort and medical treatments' effectiveness. They can also help with medical cost containment.
Such innovative products are essential in offering functional clothing to chronically ill people, thereby enhancing their quality of life, speed up post-operative medical treatment recovery (through breathable prostheses/orthoses, innovative wound dressings), and provide new treatment options (through artificial ligaments, joints, and tissues, textile-based implants rather than the use of scarce donor organs)
Medical textiles are comprised of constructions and products for use in medical applications such as rehabilitation, hygiene, clinical, and first aid purposes. Examples of medical textiles include the artificial cornea, eye contact lenses, artificial bones and joints, heart valves/vascular grafts, sanitary towels, nappies, artificial lungs/kidney/liver, sutures, artificial ligaments, bandages, wound dressing, and surgeon wear.
Application of medical textiles include:
- Antiseptic wound dressings
- Hygiene products
- Prosthetics, pressure garments, bandages, and dressings
- Protective and healthcare textiles
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