Electrical stimulation is suggested for patients with pressure injuries as an adjunct therapy to standard wound care.
Pressure injuries, also known as pressure wounds, are a consequence of immobility. They often occur in people with severe neurologic conditions such as spinal cord injuries; in people with severe illnesses who not mobile; or in people who are frail, elderly, and have difficulty moving. Pressure injuries further decrease mobility, are costly, and are difficult to manage. A pressure injury is caused by localized damage to the skin or underlying soft tissue due to prolonged or intense pressure. It often occurs over a part of the body where the bone is immediately below the skin surface. This type of injury can present as intact skin or as an open wound, and is often painful.
Standard wound care for patients with pressure injuries consists of four phases: assessment, the removal of damaged tissue, control of bacteria and infection, and cleansing. In electrical stimulation—as an adjunct therapy—at least two small electrodes are applied directly onto the wound and are connected to a small battery-operated device or plugged into a wall outlet. This stimulator creates a small electrical charge in the skin tissues to promote healing
While electrical stimulation is safe to use, there is uncertainty about whether it improves healing rates, helps wounds heal faster, or reduces the size of wounds.
The cost-effectiveness of electrical stimulation for treatment of pressure injuries is unknown. In Ontario, publicly funding electrical stimulation for pressure injuries could result in additional costs of $770,000 to $3.85 million yearly for the next 5 years.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is currently reviewing this recommendation.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Ministry has a standardized process in place to review Health Quality Ontario recommendations. This takes into consideration Ministry priorities, implementation options, the need for consultation with impacted stakeholders, and funding considerations.