Electric bandage helps heal chronic wounds

By Karen Abernathy - bio | email

From diabetic ulcers to injuries, more than 850,000 chronic wounds are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. These open sores can lead to infection and may put patients at risk of amputation.

Now, there's a new wound care option just approved by the FDA. It doesn't have a plug or a cord, but you could call it an electric bandage.

It's helping people like World War II military hero Tom White.

"I got wounded over Palermo in a B-17 raid. I was the lead navigator and our plane was hit."

White is proud of his military career and wouldn't trade it for anything, despite the fact that ever since he was wounded in the war, he has been fighting a battle with war wounds that wouldn't heal.

"They said I was caught between a rock and a hard place and they could do nothing but recommend amputation."

Just when it seemed like there were no other options, a doctor at recommended something new. Scott Sheftel, MD, is Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has a lot of confidence in the new wound healing bandage.

"It looks like a regular bandage, but it doesn't act like a regular bandage."

When the bandage is moistened, it activates zinc and silver elements on the surface, creating a small electric current that penetrates the skin to stimulate healing. The patients don't feel anything.

"It's a normal physiologic stimulus. We're not giving something that's going to shock you like a tens unit. We're recreating the bioelectric potential that's there."

In clinical trials, the bandage jump-started healing, relieved pain and reduced the risk of infection in hundreds of patients with chronic hard to heal wounds.

"It stimulates healing, stimulates cellular migration, and that's part of the healing process," Dr. Sheftel said.

Thanks to the new bandage and some TLC  from his wife, Tom's wound has improved dramatically.

"It's working. It's tough, it's been a year, but it's working."

Soon, Tom hopes to be walking again. And at 90 years young, he's looking forward to many more good years ahead.

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