Drexel University researchers have received a grant from The National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a battery-powered wearable device to heal wounds.
The research team will use the $3m grant to conduct a clinical trial of the device by monitoring blood flow in the wound tissue and also to determine that how nutrition and inflammation affect healing of the wound.
The portable and light-weight device emits low-frequency ultrasonic sound waves measuring 20kHz to the wound which heals by reduce swelling.
It uses low-level of energy which makes it suitable to treat damaged tissue over a longer period of time.
Principal investigator of the project Peter Lewin said: “We know the interaction of ultrasound and biological tissue can lead to undesirable effects, and we want to make sure that if we have a device that is helpful for patients, it must be foolproof.
“It must be absolutely safe, even if a patient would inadvertently apply the treatment for 24 hours.”
The device, after being fully developed, can be applied directly to the wound using a thin piece of tegaderm, gel and medical tape.
It is fitted with a palm-sized battery which powers the set of transducers inside the device to create acoustic energy and initate the wound-healing process.
In 2013, the researchers conducted a successful test of the device on 20 patients who were exposed to ultrasound wave at a frequency of 20kHz for 15-minute intervals.
All five patients in the group who received this combination of treatment experienced complete healing by end of the four-week treatment period.
Image: The battery-powered applicator. Photo: courtesy of Drexel University.