Electric undies shock away bedsores
The new wonderpants could save half a million hospital patients every year from developing the painful and potentially life-threatening condition.
Wed, Oct 17 2012 at 12:22 PM
Electrode-fitted underwear in the lab at University of Calgary. (Photo: YouTube)
A new invention may be changing the face, or bottom, of bedsores forever. Dubbed Smart e-Pants, the undergarments include two pads of electrodes and were part of a month-long trial by doctors from the University of Calgary. Placed on patients with spinal cord injuries, the electric underwear delivered a low current for 10 seconds every 10 minutes for 12 hours a day.
The findings, presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference in New Orleans, revealed that none of the patients treated with the special pants developed a single sore.
Bedsores are a serious problem that occur when a patient is immobilized. With a lack of movement, skin compresses and blood circulation ceases, leading to open wounds. Bedsores are painful and in their most severe form they can be life threatening as they can eat through the muscle and bore all the way down to the bone. It’s estimated that more than 34,000 people die from infection and other complications due to bedsores each year.
And until now, there has been little success in finding new and effective ways to prevent them.
So how do the wonderpants do their magic? The mild shocks mimic fidgeting and shift a patient into a slightly different position, which relieves pressure on the skin and increases circulation. It's that simple.
The Smart e-Pants were popular with both caregivers and patients who were involved in the trial. They are simple, comfortable and only take a few minutes to put on. Researchers say the next step is to conduct further studies to assess whether the fancy pants can prevent bedsores in larger populations.
The video below shows how the researchers came up with the smart idea.
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