Army Experiments With Electric Bandages

By Eric Beidel
Some day, a soldier injured in battle may forgo traditional wound dressings in favor of an electric shock.

The Army Medical Research and Materiel Command is investigating the use of bioelectric bandages, which have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of infection, decrease pain and inflammation, and expedite healing. During a recent road march, many Army Rangers developed blisters and were treated with the product, manufactured by Arizona-based Procellera. Army officials said the soldiers reported less pain and were able to quickly return to the march.

Small silver and zinc dots are embedded into the cloth to create electric currents in the presence of moisture. Endogenous electrical activity already exists between cells in human skin. When there is an injury, this activity helps cells migrate throughout the wound, according to the company’s description of its technology. Adding a low-level external voltage to the mix enhances this healing process while killing pathogenic cells such as bacteria and fungi.

The Food and Drug Administration has cleared the product for antimicrobial wound care, the main attraction for the Army. Several research studies are under way to see how the bandage performs on wounds that are more difficult to heal.

The bandages may eventually be used for everything from simple abrasions and skin tears to traumatic and surgical wounds.

Topics: Health Affairs

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