New bioelectric bandage interests Army

By Dan Kennedy, PMO Medical DevicesFebruary 6, 2012

Bioelectric bandage
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT DETRICK, Md. (Feb. 6, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command has initiated steps to evaluate a new bioelectric bandage

Small silver and zinc dots embedded into cloth create micro-currents in the presence of moisture. This may create an anti-microbial environment and provide pain reduction.

The use of silver on burns has a long history of preventing infections. The combination of silver, zinc, and moisture is purported to create pain-reducing antimicrobial micro-currents. According to literature from the manufacturer, the results of this bandage dressing include faster healing, greater pain control, reduced incidence of infection, and decreased scarring.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the device for antimicrobial wound care, which is the primary reason for the Army's genuine interest in the product. The bandage is currently being used on hard-to-heal wounds, with multiple research studies underway. Anecdotal results are promising, especially with regard to pain control. In some cases, wound pain is reported to be reduced dramatically.

The nature of the cloth conforms well to multiple surfaces of the body. Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections are anticipated to be impacted by the antimicrobial properties of the bandage dressing, which has tremendous potential for Soldier use.

Studies are underway with Ranger units. Recently, at a Ranger road march, a considerable number of Soldiers obtained blisters and were treated with the bandage. The results were notable, as many Soldiers reported dramatic pain relief and the ability to quickly return to the march.

The novel technology of this bandage is that it purportedly creates a healing bioelectrical pathway over the entire wound surface, enhancing the body's natural healing environment. As a broad-spectrum antimicrobial flexible dressing with electrically active currents providing pain control, the device could have huge potential for the Army if testing scientific testing bears out anecdotal claims.

The public may hear more about this bandage as indications for use are expanded. Currently, indications for use are directed toward all full- and partial-thickness skin wounds, from simple abrasions and skin tears to traumatic wounds and surgical sites.

Given this, the battlefield may serve as the best proving ground in which to test this emerging medical device.

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