Electronic Bandage Speeds Wound Healing

A closeup of a ring and "flower" electrode attached to a translucent piece of material with fainter wires. The flower and ring electrodes are made of molybdenum that has a somewhat accordion fold back-and-forth cross-section.

We’re a long way from the dermal regenerators in Star Trek, but researchers at Northwestern University have made a leap forward in the convenient use of electrotherapy for wound healing.

Using a ring and center “flower” electrode, this bioresorbable molybdenum device restores the natural bioelectric field across a wound to stimulate healing in diabetic ulcers. Only 30 minutes of electrical stimulation per day was able to show a 30% improvement in healing speed when used with diabetic mice. Power is delivered wirelessly and data is transmitted back via NFC, meaning the device can remain on a patient without leaving them tethered when not being treated.

Healing can be tracked by the change in electrical resistance across the wound since the wound will dry out as it heals. Over a period of six months, the central flower electrode will dissolve into the patient’s body and the rest of the device can be removed. Next steps include testing in a larger animal model and then clinical trials on human diabetic patients.

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered using electricity in medicine.

20 thoughts on “Electronic Bandage Speeds Wound Healing

  1. I’m very much a natural sceptic, but “restores the natural bioelectric field across a wound” sounds like “woowoo quantum crystals” to me. Assuming electrotherapy does work I’m sure there is a less nebulous explanation for it.

      1. Yup, and the experiment is testing the idea that this specific banage would work. Not of any specific mechanism of action.

        It’s a fascinating phenomena which might be useful regardless of it’s mechanism or our understanding.

        Medicine is especially prone to promoting mechanisms because it makes people happier to accept and intervention, and people happier to prescribe it.

        1. I came here looking for a product I used 20yrs ago. I really liked it. Only to find that the idea is gaining traction.
          I found a bandage system for bikers…treating “road rash”. The products name was Silverton…electric bandage. The science is sound…..it was a system centered around this thin finely woven silver ‘cloth’. It also came with a sulfa powder. When you needed a bandage you cleaned it then sprinkled sulfa on it. Then you used scissors to cut a small quarter inch piece that you placed in the center where you powdered. The lymph fluids in road rash combined with the sulfa to make the electrolyte and the silver…which has antimicrobial properties..to create a mild current that claimed to speed healing. It did a great job and would buy it again…

      1. I followed the link in the article to the actual paper (https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.ade4687) and then looked through the paper to see what they were referencing in terms of how currents and/or voltage fields affect wound healing. One such paper is https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3928722/ which is a review paper from 2014 going over what was known at the time (also reference #16 in the paper that the article is based on). Looks like a reasonable summary might be that cells involved in wound healing at least in part follow the electrical field as an indicator in which direction to migrate into the wound.

        1. TC, I know I’m preaching to the wrong audience, but THAT is what I call “doing my/your own research” on the internet. Finding the published peer reviewed paper, following up on references, etc. Not simply watching YouTube videos that resonate in their own echo chambers.

    1. Bioelectric fields are a thing that exists, and therefore people would have “natural” bioelectric fields. Whether they are _relevant_ in any way to this is a different question. Getting a 30% improvement does mean that _something_ is working… or their methodology is flawed.

    2. The dirty secret is that most startups can pay for a favorable medical trial. Even peer review. We look back at almost all previous incarnations of medicine and see charlatans everywhere, but we are currently little different. We just can’t see them yet. They are here. Yes, including in supposedly legit medicine too.

    1. Also I don’t like the idea of that much “absorbable” molybdenum in my body. It is a micronutrient, but that’s quite a bit of heavy metals.. Although if you’re so far gone that your wounds simply refuse to heal anymore, might not be a big deal at that point.

  2. This reminds me of bone repair, when I fractured my metatarsal. They gave me a device that, as explained, promotes a signal that has been recorded when bone is healing, which has a specific signal pattern. I wore it a couple times a day, and I believe it worked. So this device above makes sense, too. I suspect there is even more to be discovered here!

  3. I’m a doctor. Many of the articles about medicine on HaD are rehashes of the entirely bogus promises made by research papers. I have many, many more things to say about this topic but can be summed up as
    1. Academic research and especially biomed tech is cutthroat.
    2. Any claims about “could be..” or something pan out to be 99% bogus. Roughly
    3. Zealous skepticism is warranted
    4. Still like reading about them here so keep it up.

    1. While I’m not a medical professional myself, I did practically grow up in a hospital and know there’s often a big gap between academia and real life having been through grad school. I would agree a lot of these papers are overly-optimistic, but it can be interesting to see where these things go even if a particular avenue ends up being an over-hyped dead end.

      Glad you find the coverage interesting despite all the caveats!

  4. The Great Pyramid of Giza was actually a hospital, gifted to humans by advanced aliens. The exact shape, size and orientation of the Pyramid created a resonance with the sun and the moon. This generated an electromagnetic field at just the right frequencies to harmonize with the bioelectric fields of humans and dolphins. The resulting feedback created standing waves that reinforced the human and dolphin electric fields allowing the body to quickly repair itself from all injuries and illnesses. This is how Egyptian dynasties lasted so long, individual Pharaohs (actually dolphins in robotic human suits) lived for centuries using the restorative powers of the Great Pyramid. The final Pharaoh still lives to this day and is the leader of both the Free Masons and the Illuminati. This is why no one is allowed to excavate the chamber under the Sphinx.


    I hate that I actually have to say J/K and that some people would actually buy crap like that.
    People suck.

    I’m going to drink my coffee now.

  5. E-stim is an old trick. There is also an “electrical dressing already out there called PROCELLETRA which in the presence of moisture creates an electrical field that causes cells to move and promotes granulation tissue. More important is that there are 11 reasons why wounds/ulcers are created and making the diagnosis and directing the treatment specifically at that cause is th ekey to healing. A “one size fits all” panacea does not exist. Leave the wound healing in difficult cases to we experts

  6. The science is totally sound here… I wrote one of the first modern books on electroculture back in 2013 and the application of electric fields to healing is very well documented. The use of electric fields is used for wound and bone healing in thoroughbred racehorses. It’s also used in many types of electronic bandages, as was mentioned before. In plants, and animals, the mechanism behind the scenes is the Hodgkin-Huxley model, that in the world of electrophysiology, causes action potential in the area which lead to many other cascading effects (that are well beyond my understanding). But after doing more than 13 years of experiments on plants, it makes total sense to me that there’s truth to this – Great to see new innovations in this area!

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