The incidence of hard-to-heal wounds, those that take longer than 4-weeks to heal, is growing globally, leading to an increasing burden to national healthcare systems. Not only do hard-to-heal wounds take up an enormous amount of healthcare time and budget, but they also cause untold pain and discomfort to the patients who have to live with them, often for years on end.
Finding a new solution to this growing problem is a challenge that Accel-Heal Technologies Ltd has embraced. This recent webinar explored their solution to help address this problem: Accel-Heal, is a wearable, easy to use electrical stimulation device that is newly available in Australia and can be used to relieve wound pain and stimulate healing.
Dr Robin Martin began the webinar by explaining some of the science behind electrical stimulation. Scientists have known for decades that many systems in the human body, work via bioelectricity and even wounds generate what is known as the “current of injury”. This bioelectric charge is linked with the normal processes of wound healing but is thought to gradually disperse over time in chronic wounds . Applying electrical stimulation to a hard-to-heal wound is believed to ‘kick-start’ the wound healing process by reinvigorating these natural bioelectric processes. Dr Martin went on to describe how electrical stimulation is one of the most evidence-based areas in wound management. But although the evidence base is strong, this technology hasn’t been widely adopted as yet. In the past, patients typically had to visit a clinic multiple times a week to receive electrical stimulation therapy; this was both inconvenient for the patient and a burden to healthcare systems. Accel-Heal, cuts through those disadvantages as it is designed to deliver an automatic program of electrical simulation whilst being managed at home by the patient themselves.
Liz Ovens, an independent tissue viability nurse based in the UK went on to describe the devastating burden of wound pain – pain not only inhibits healing physiologically but also gets in the way of gold standard treatments like compression, because patients with wound-related pain often can’t tolerate the interventions they need to manage their wound. To make matters worse, analgesics often have little effect but do have lots of side-effects, meaning that patients often don’t want to take them. She described how Accel-Heal had given her patients “the opportunity to change their lives and [had given] them hope” by having a rapid impact on their wound-related pain and by stimulating the wound healing process.
Accel-Heal provides a 12-day, automatic, uninterrupted therapy, consisting of six individual devices that each last for 48 hours devices. It is designed to be applied in addition to standard wound care including advanced wound dressings and compression bandaging. Importantly, the level of electrical stimulation applied is at the ‘subsensory’ level, meaning that most patients don’t experience any unpleasant sensation and are often not even aware that they are wearing it! Often, as well as seeing a reduction in wound pain during the first couple of days of treatment, signs of wound progress also become apparent during the 12-day treatment and this healing trajectory continues after the treatment has ended.
In Australia, Geoff Sussman, Associate Professor at Monash University, Melbourne, recently trialled Accel-Heal on a very complex patient whose leg ulcer had been unhealed for 16-months, was very painful and had resulted in more than one stay in hospital. Geoff described his experience with the device. Before starting treatment with Accel-Heal, his patient had reported wound pain of 5-7 on the VAS pain scale (out of a maximum of 10), and the wound measured 4cm x 2.2cm in size. By day 5 of the 12-day Accel-Heal treatment programme, pain had reduced to 0-1 and wound dimensions had reduced to 3.2 x 1.7cm, an impressive improvement given the complexity of the patient’s broader medical condition.
Linda Howel, an independent wound care consultant , based in Melbourne Australia has also had opportunity to trial Accel-Heal on a complex patient who had multiple wounds on her lower leg which were having a major negative impact on her life. Not only did she need strong opioid analgesics to help control the pain, but the wound had also been directly responsible for her not being able to go to work. Despite trying lots of different advanced wound dressings, and despite the use of compression therapy, this wound had not healed for over 8-years. Accel-Heal was applied to the most severe wound; within days the wound looked cleaner and was reducing in size and the patient needed to take fewer of her painkillers. The wound continued to improve after treatment had completed; within 10-weeks, the patient was pain-free and with minimal exudate. The progress was so unlike anything the patient had experienced before that she was excited to try Accel-Heal on a wound she had on her other leg. Her treatment with Accel-Heal, in the patient’s own words, allowed her to “feel that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Accel-Heal, is available in Australia and New Zealand, via Alliance Medical Solutions. Please click here for contact details. http://www.alliancemedicalsolutions.com.au/
Dr Robin Martin speaks
Linda Howell shares her case study
Professor Geoff Sussman
The Q&A from the webinar
- Sen CK. Human Wounds and Its Burden: An Updated Compendium of Estimates. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2019 Feb 1;8(2):39-48.
- Milne J, Swift A, Smith J, Martin R. Electrical stimulation for pain reduction in hard-to-heal wound healing. J Wound Care. 2021 Jul 2;30(7):568-580.