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Sports Bandages

To protect cuts and abrasions, traditionally, flexible cloth bandages are used. These are typically made from cotton. After scouring and bleaching, cotton is 99% cellulose. Cellulose is a polymer made up of a long chain of glucose molecules all linked together by C-1 to C-4 oxygen bridges, called glycosidic bonds, formed on elimination of water. The cellulose chains within cotton fibres tend to be held in place by hydrogen bonding, which occurs between the hydroxyl groups (–OH) of adjacent sugar molecules.

To protect cuts and abrasions, traditionally, flexible cloth bandages are used. These are typically made from cotton. After scouring and bleaching, cotton is 99% cellulose. Cellulose is a polymer made up of a long chain of glucose molecules all linked together by C-1 to C-4 oxygen bridges, called glycosidic bonds, formed on elimination of water. The cellulose chains within cotton fibres tend to be held in place by hydrogen bonding, which occurs between the hydroxyl groups (–OH) of adjacent sugar molecules.

hydorgen bonding

Liquid Bandages

Today, an alternative to cotton is ‘spray on bandage’ or liquid bandages. The spray contains a polymer such as PVP/VA, which binds to the skin and forms a temporary protective coating over the injury. It is easy to remove the bandage because the polymer is water-soluble. When water is applied it dissolves! Liquid bandages can stick better than plastic or fabric adhesive bandages to many hard-to-bandage areas, including knuckles and between fingers.

polymerisation

Vertigel Banadages

Research in this area continues, and a new algae-based polymer, called Vetigel, has been developed that stops profuse bleeding within seconds. It was invented in 2010 by Joe Landolina, when he was just 17 years old. (This reminds me of Maria Elena Grimmett who, at the age of just 14, became the youngest person published in the Journal of Environmental Quality for designing reusable polymer beads to remove sulfamethazine (an antibiotic) from rivers, streams and groundwater.)

What sporting injuries would you most like to solve using chemistry-based inventions?


Is Cryotherapy Effective?

As mentioned in the video, cooling the site of an injury, or cryotherapy, is often used to treat acute sports injuries. Putting an ice pack on a pulled muscle can help to relieve pain and is called cooling-mediated analgesia (or pain relief). But how effective is it? Unfortunately, the lack of appropriate randomised and blind model studies means that we cannot definitively say how effective cryotherapy is. It is generally advised to continue to use such therapy soon after acute sports injuries and their surgical treatment occur.

Does adding an ice-pack or cold-spray work for you?

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Exploring Everyday Chemistry

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