In 1994, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) issued a panel statement confirming that electrical stimulation as an acceptable complimentary therapy for treating pressure ulcers. While this panel did not suggest that electrical stimulation should be considered a primary protocol, it did affirm that it could aid wound healing when combined with a moist healing protocol.
Electrical stimulation therapy mimics the bioelectric mechanism the body employs as a response to injury. When there is a break in the skin, the body’s bioelectric system communicates with the skin and the other tissues of the body, calling repair cells to the injured site and enhancing secretion of fluids vital to wound healing. The AHCPR thinks that the application of electrical stimulation to the wound bed in conjunction with moist wound therapy can boost the wound healing process.
Electrical stimulation transfers electrical energy into the wound bed. A doctor places a surface electrode in contact with the skin surface or the wound bed. The electrode is immersed in a wet medium, such as a gel. Doctors use very low levels of electrical currents with a very short pulse duration. This kind of current is particularly safe because the amount of electrical current is minimal, and the duration of each pulse of electricity is short.
The AHCPR specifies that keeping a wound moist is important in creating the optimal condition for electrical stimulation treatment, because a moist environment mirrors the natural concentration of moisture present in wounds.
Many companies are in the process of exploring the field of electrotherapy and evaluating its possible uses in wound care. Recently, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine reported that chronic wounds might heal faster when treated with an electro pressure device than wounds receiving standard treatment. The device, called ERTD, apparently accelerates the healing process. Currently, medical centers in the United States are conducting a study with several hundred patients to determine the efficacy of electrotherapy.
The ERTD preliminary study is one of many that are currently underway. Research studies utilizing electrical currents in conjunction with acupuncture needles have yielded promising results. The studies seem to indicate that electrotherapy may have positive applications in the future of wound healing.