Skip to main content

Evidence to Improve Care

Electrical Stimulation for Pressure Injuries

Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendation

  • The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommends against publicly funding electrical stimulation for pressure injuries.

Read the Full Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendation Report Here

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.

Electrical Stimulation for Pressure Injuries: A Health Technology Assessment (PDF)
July 2017

Use of this site, and the interpretation of the information contained here, is subject to important terms and conditions. Use of this site and information except in accordance with these terms and conditions is expressly prohibited.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care endorses this recommendation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Ministry agrees with this recommendation and encourages physicians to consider Health Quality Ontario’s evidence-informed advice on this topic as an element in their clinical decision-making.

Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.


Sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly notifications of when draft recommendations are open for feedback

A senior couple looking at their tablet together

Let’s make our health system healthier

Join Our Patient, Family and Public Advisors Program

Patients, families and the public are central to improving health quality.

Man smiling

Sign up for our newsletter

Are you passionate about quality health care for all Ontarians? Stay in-the-know about our newest programs, reports and news.

Health Quality Connect - Health Quality Ontario's newsletter - on an iPad and a cell phone