Veterans Affairs

Electrical stimulation patch for wound therapy, infection control, and pain management

Wireless, wearable, flexible adhesive electrical stimulation patch for use in multiple therapeutic applications

Medical & Biotechnology

The Department of Veterans Affairs has invented a novel medical device for treating wounds. The patented technology is available to businesses that would develop it into a commercially available product.

Illustration of the Integrated Surface Stimulation Device.

Open wounds can be difficult to treat. In particular, chronic wounds, such as ischemic wounds and pressure ulcers, are a major clinical challenge in the long-term care of people with physical impairment or disability. Even in mild cases, special care is required.

Scientific studies show that electrical stimulation quickens wound healing, reduces scar formation, and can alleviate pain. A review of the literature reveals that galvanic treatment is also valuable in the treatment of wounds and scars, via several modes of action including accelerated cell regeneration; tissue repair; accelerated cutaneous barrier recovery; improved blood circulation; improved respiration; and scar reduction.

Clinical studies have used different stimulation approaches but to date, no optimum electrotherapy protocol has been identified, especially for problematic wounds such as pressure ulcers. Such approaches have comprised stationary, costly stimulation devices, have not addressed the need for varied modalities of treatment for specific wound types or pain, or have required surgical implantation.

From the minds of the VA’s Advanced Platform Technology Center comes a simple, reliable, low-cost integrated surface stimulation device (ISSD) that can be used in a variety of mobile care settings, from the intensive care unit to the patient’s home.

The ISSD employs electrical stimulation for wound and pain treatment, embodied on a thin and flexible bandage-like patch that includes all self-contained electronics. The system is disposable and customizable for particular types of wounds and pain associated therewith, including the treatment protocol itself.

The device comprises an integrated power supply and pre-programmable stimulation controller mounted on the upper face of a flexible polymeric patch. The lower face of the patch comprises areas of stimulating electrodes. The patch can be applied with a medical grade pressure sensitive adhesive coating.

Because one key design concept underlying the device is forward compatible upgradeability, it is provided with a flexible architecture that allows for functional expansion such as multi-channel stimulation and biofeedback sensor capability.

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