The ReviStim™ is a DC Stimulator that delivers a monophasic twin peaked high voltage pulsed current (HVPC) in a micro-amperage range deep into the tissue bed to promote increase microcirculation, reduction of edema, which in turn promotes healing. Using the ReviStim™ will help relieve pain and heal wounds while reducing muscle spasms and increasing range of motion.
Since the human body operates on DC signaling, the ReviStim™ stimulates healing at the source of pain instead of masking it like traditional TENS electrotherapy. The origins of DC Stimulation go back 50 years where it was invented for healing chronic wounds. The original devices were very large. Now, with ReviStim™ technology, you can use it in your practice or have your patients take it home!
HVPC stimulation (direct current) creates an electrical field over the treated area that promotes increased microcirculation.
Transcutaneous stimulation (alternating current) delivers a low-frequency (<50 Hz) alternating current to a focused treatment area. Due to the nature of low-frequency, however, these signals have a low capacity to overcome skin resistance – resulting in these units only providing temporary pain relief while being worn.
Electrical stimulation is defined as the use of an electrical current to transfer energy to a wound. The type of electricity that is transferred is controlled by the electrical source. Capacitatively coupled electrical stimulation involves the transfer of electric current through an applied surface electrode pad (capacitatively coupled) with the external skin surface and /or wound bed. When capacitatively coupled electrical stimulation is used, two electrodes are required to complete the electric circuit. Electrodes are usually placed 2’ to 3’ bracketing the wound on skin.
When discussing electrical stimulation, it is important to distinguish the waveform used for the protocol. Although there are many waveforms available on electrotherapy equipment, the one that has the most thorough and consistent evaluation in vitro, in animal studies and in controlled clinical trials is monophasic twin peaked high voltage pulsed current ( HVPC). The pulse width varies with a range from 20-200 microseconds. The HVPC devices also allow for selection of polarity and variation in pulse rates both of which seem to be important in wound healing. It is a very safe current because it’s very short pulse duration prevents significant changes in both tissue pH and temperature. Therefore, the most tested and safe type of stimulation is the one recommended.
Other types of waveforms and have been tested in clinical trials but will not be discussed here due to limited space.
Acceptance of electrical stimulation for wound healing by the medical community has been a long and complex task. In 1994, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) panel issued Treatment of Pressure Ulcers, Clinical Practice Guideline, Number 15. The panel of pressure ulcer care experts used an explicit science-based methodology and expert clinical judgment to develop statements regarding pressure ulcer treatment. Extensive literature searches, critical review and synthesis were used followed by peer and field review to evaluate the validity, reliability and utility of the guideline in clinical practice. AHCPR panel issued a statement about use of electrical stimulation as an adjunctive therapy for pressure ulcers: ” Consider a course of treatment with electrotherapy for Stage III and IV pressure ulcers that have proved unresponsive to conventional therapy. Electrical stimulation may also be useful for recalcitrant Stage II ulcers. Strength of Evidence = B.” The panel found that data from 5 clinical trials involving 147 patients to support the effectiveness of this therapy for pressure ulcers.
The body has its own bioelectric system. This system influences wound healing by attracting the cells of repair, changing cell membrane permeability, enhancing cellular secretion through cell membranes and orientating cell structures. A current termed the “current of injury” is generated between the skin and inner tissues when there is a break in the skin. The current will continue until the skin defect is repaired. Healing of the injured tissue is arrested or will be incomplete if these currents no longer flow while the wound is open. A moist wound environment is required for the bioelectric system to function. A rationale for applying electrical stimulation is that it mimics the natural current of injury and will jump start or accelerate the wound healing process.
Keeping a wound moist with normal ( 0.9% ) saline ( sodium chloride ) maintains the optimal bioelectric charge because it is like the electrolytic concentration of wound fluid. Dressings such as amorphous hydrogels and occlusive dressings help promote the body’s “current of injury” by keeping the wound moist.
Debridement and Thrombosis
Debridement is helped if the tissue is solubilized such as with enzymatic debriding agents. ES using negative current has been shown to solubilize clotted blood. Necrotic tissue is made up of coalesced blood elements. The negative pole has been used to begin treatment in all controlled clinical studies and most of the wounds have necrotic tissue. This research would lend support to that part of protocol. The positive electrode has been found to induce clumping of leukocytes and forming of thrombosis in the small vassals this was reversed with the negative electrode. (Gentzkow 91) This may explain a clinical observation that hematoma or hemorrhaging at the wound margin or on granulation tissue are dissolved and reabsorbed following application of HVPC with the negative pole. Hemorrhagic material goes on to necrosis if not dissolved and reabsorbed quickly.
Clinical experience has repeatedly shown that treatment with the inflammation protocol, using negative polarity, promotes rapid absorption of hemorrhagic material, usually within 48 hours.
Clinical Wound Healing Studies
Early studies using direct current stimulation reported long treatment times of 20-40 hours per weeks. Four controlled clinical studies and three uncontrolled studies with HVPC report a mean healing time of 9.5 weeks with 45-60 minute treatment 5-7x/wk.
Summary of Scientific Rationale for Application
Electrical stimulation affects the biological phases of wound healing in the following ways:
Use and application of the modality is not pathology dependent.
Types of wounds for which there is indication to use HVPC include:
The protocols change as the wound healing phase changes. Assessment and diagnosis of the wound healing phase determines the treatment protocol.
Protocol for treatment:
Research Wisdom: Use of Amorphous Hydrogel for Conduction
A saline based amorphous hydrogel, which has the ability to conduct electric current has been tested and the conductivity is comparable to saline. Whether the healing of the wound is improved when this product is used for conducting current and then left in the wound has not been tested. In the meantime, such a product may have the added advantage of being used as the wound dressing to keep the wound moist after the electrical stimulation treatment is completed.
Setting Up the Patient
Usually placed proximal electrode 2” to 3” from the wound. Place over soft tissues a muscle mass, avoid bony prominences.
Clinical Wisdom: Remove Petrolatum Before Stimulation
All petrolatum products including enzymatic debriding agents such as collagenase, Santyl, fibrinolysin, and Elase, which are petrolatum-based products, must be removed before treatment or current will not be conducted into the wound tissues.
After the electrical stimulation treatment is complete, slip the electrode out. The wound can be left undisturbed. If additional topical treatments are required such as enzymatic debriding agents or antibiotics, then the packing will need to be removed, topical agent applied and redressed.
Research Wisdom: Avoid Wound Chilling
Frequent dressing changes are being discouraged because it disturbs the wound healing environment by removing important substances in wound exudate and cooling the wound. It takes three hours for a chilled wound to re-warm and slows leukocytic and mitotic activity
Signs of adverse effects were evaluated in the various clinical trials and none were found except some skin irritation or tingling under the electrodes in a few cases. Patients with severe peripheral vascular occlusive disease (PVD), may experience some increased pain, usually described as throbbing, in the leg after electrical stimulation.
Contraindications for treatment with electrical stimulation include the following:
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