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Phys Ther. 1991 Jun;71(6):433-42; discussion 442-4.

Efficacy of high voltage pulsed current for healing of pressure ulcers in patients with spinal cord injury.

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Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Allied Health Sciences, University of Tennessee, Memphis 38163.


The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of high voltage pulsed direct current (HVPC) for healing of pressure ulcers in patients with spinal cord injury. Seventeen patients having pressure ulcers in the pelvic region were randomly assigned to either an HVPC group or a placebo HVPC group. Treatments were given for 1 hour a day for 20 consecutive days. The HVPC protocol consisted of an aluminum-foil electrode placed over the ulcer and set at negative polarity in reference to the dispersive electrode placed on the thigh. Stimulator frequency was set at 100 pps, and an intensity of 200 V was used. Measurements of ulcer surface area were conducted before treatment and after treatment days 5, 10, 15, and 20. To measure ulcer area (in square millimeters), slides taken at each measurement time were projected at actual size, traced, and digitized. Percentage of change compared with pretreatment ulcer size was calculated for each measurement time. Ulcers in the HVPC group demonstrated significantly greater percentage-of-change decreases from their pretreatment size than did ulcers in the placebo group at days 5, 15, and 20. The results suggest that HVPC, in conjunction with good nursing care, can significantly increase the healing rate of pelvic ulcers in patients with spinal cord injury.

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