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YOUR HEALTH: Better healing with an electric bandage

MADISON, Wisconsin – We have electric cars, razors, and now an electric bandage?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have developed an electrode-dressed bandage to help the body heal itself.

Electrical currents are created when the body moves.

"We use that body generated electricity to help the wound recovery," explained Xudong Wang, an Engineering Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"So you just apply some pressure to the device and it could generate electricity," said Jun Li, a University of Wisconsin engineering student.

Treatment duration for ES is typically 45-60 minutes, five to seven days per week or at least three days per week if possible.

Those pulses of electricity stimulate cell regeneration and speed up the healing process at the wounded area.

"There are two ways for the electrical potential to help the wound recover," said Wang.

"One is the electric field can stimulate the cell regeneration.   So, on the electric field, the cell can recover at a more rapid rate.   And the second one is the electric field can help the fibroblast cells to align themselves along the electric field direction.  So they will form a more organized framework for the cell to grow; therefore the cell can align faster and with less formation of scars."

When the device was tested on rats, Professor Wang was shocked with the results.

"Usually this wound will recover in two weeks and our device helped the wounded recover in three days with minimal formation of scars."

The idea to use electricity to heal wounds is not exactly new.

There are large devices that treat patients with chronic wounds but patients can only get them at the hospital.

Wang believes his technology can have big implications.

"We can make it a treatment become a daily normal treatment just like using a bandage from the grocery store, he said, "so people can handle that all by themselves."

Creating bonds that heal.

Right now the device can only treat acute, fresh wounds, but Wang is looking to work on hard-to-treat wounds, even burn wounds.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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