September 2, 2008
WOUND HEALING WITH ELECTRICAL STIMULATION©
Lyn Paul Taylor, A.A., B.A., M.A., R.P.T.
(Editing Assistant and Computer Consultant: Joanna Soon, B.S.)
research and experience have confirmed that low intensity, low
frequency electrical stimulation may facilitate the
healing processes of damaged soft tissues, increasing the quality and rate of
repair. Electrical stimulation has been shown to be remarkably effective for precipitating
the closure of healing-resistant incisions and pressure sores (decubiti).
Many types of electrical
instrumentation provide current forms with the requisite amplitudes
(0 to 100 milliamperes or up to 90 volts), frequencies (1 to 10
hertz), and pulse width duration (100 to 200 milliseconds)
necessary to facilitate soft tissue healing. Of all the current
forms, the pulsed square wave has been shown to be the most
effective and safest.
To promote wound healing (without
the presence of infection) with electrical stimulation, go through the
- Surface electrodes should be placed in opposition
on either side of the open wound. If four electrodes are available, the
electrodes should be arranged in a crisscross pattern
(negative-positive, positive-negative) to allow the current flow to intersect
over the surface of the wound.
- The electrical stimulation unit should be preset at zero
amplitude, at a minimum frequency of 28 hertz, and at the longest possible
pulse width (from 100 to 200 milliseconds).
- The electrical stimulation unit should be turned on
and the intensity slowly increased until the patient reports “feeling”
the stimulation, usually at 20 milliamperes or slightly less. Higher currents
are not thought to be advisable, and no involuntary
muscle contraction or increased muscle tonus should be allowed to
- Stimulation should last for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Ideally, this treatment should be applied three or four
times a day, at equally spaced intervals. Successful treatment has been noted
to occur if stimulation is provided once a day, or as little as three times a
week. However, the speed of healing seems directly related to the number
and frequency of treatment sessions.
- Following treatment, the surface electrodes should be removed and
the skin under the electrodes thoroughly cleansed.
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