Researchers Develop Ultrasound Device for Wound Care
A new, portable approach could help millions of patients living with chronic wounds.
In late 2015, a team from the U.K.’s University of Sheffield launched a study with a simple premise: Could ultrasounds help heal chronic diabetic ulcers. Publishing their results in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the scientists found that wounds in laboratory mice healed up to 30 percent faster. According to the study’s results, the ultrasound works by facilitating cellular movement, actually “waking up” those in your skin to begin the healing process.
Now, another similar project is being launched using ultrasound, and it may be ready to use in just a few years’ time.
According to a press release, a group of scientists from Drexel University have received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a portable ultrasound device to be used in wound care regimens. The device is already being designed by several groups within Drexel, including the School of Biomedical Engineering and the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
When complete, the device – which will be smaller than your average wristwatch – will be one of the first active techniques for treating chronic wounds, countering more passive methods like those focused on maintaining moisture levels. Because of its small size, the device can be placed on any specific wound area. Once attached, it generates a frequency of 20 kilohertz – which is just above the audible range of hearing, according to the University of Nevada, Reno. The sound waves then work on 24-hour cycles, activating cells to increase wound healing.
An early prototype of the device was launched in a clinical trial organized by the Drexel team’s lead researcher Michael S. Weingarten. In a group of 20 patients, five of whom used the device once a day for a month, wounds healed up to 15 percent faster. That’s not the only purported benefit of the device, either. Because it’s small and portable, it can be used at home or on the go, and that will save patients precious time and money.
To measure the success of the device, the Drexel team will make use of a special near-infrared monitoring system. Developed by another group at the university, this monitor tracks the growth of blood vessels and helps create more concrete data about the effects of the ultrasound therapy.
It may still be some time before the device hits the market, but it could prove to be a helpful new form of intervention for millions of wound care patients everywhere.
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