Posted on 17/10/2012

Shock pants could reduce bedsores

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Researchers have claimed that underwear designed to shock the buttocks could prevent bedsores. Formed when patients are stuck in the same position for extended periods of time, bedsores or ‘pressure sores’ compress the skin, cutting off the blood supply and creating painful open wounds.

In a short trial which was carried out on 37 people, Canadian academics found that a mild current mimicked small movements, preventing sores from forming. Costing the NHS up to £2billion a year, this research is sure to grab the attention of medical practitioners from the UK and of course across the world.

A common problem in hospitals where patients are often too ill to move from their beds, pressure sores are a particular health risk to the elderly due to poor circulation with half a million people developing sores in the UK each year.

The underwear, which was tested by doctors at the University of Calgary, places two pads of electrodes on each cheek. Those who were unable to move due to a spinal injury were zapped for 10 seconds every 10 minutes, 12 hours a day with results showing that not one of them developed a sore during a month long trial period.

The findings were presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference, with researchers highlighting that the fidgety small movements mimicked by the shocks left patients sitting in a slightly different position each time they received the current.

A research nurse at the university, Robyn Rogers, said: “Pressure ulcers can be terribly debilitating… Our hope is that this innovative, clinically friendly system will eventually make a difference to the lives of millions of people”.

The pants, which were reportedly popular with both nurses and patients, will need further testing to see just how effective they are. Dr Peter Carter who is the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said “The expertise is out there, and good practice in many areas shows that money can be saved, not to mention the distress which can be prevented.”

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