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Microcurrent Electrical Therapy Heals a Recalcitrant Wound in a Horse.

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 25(11): 418-422, 2005

Ava Frick, DVM Animal Fitness Center, PC
Union, MO

Microcurrent Electrical
Therapy

 


Electricity was first used to treat surface wounds more than 300 years ago when charged gold leaf was found to prevent smallpox scars.1 Experimental animal wound models demonstrated that electrical intervention results in accelerated healing with skin wounds resurfacing faster and with stronger scar tissue formation.2,3

Moist wounds resurface up to 40% faster than air-exposed wounds.4 When a wound is dry, its bioelectric current flow is reduced. The moisture may allow endogenously- produced current to flow more readily through the injury, and thus promote wound healing. Externally applied electrical stimulation of the wound may have a similar effect, and also tends to increase the amount of growth factor receptors, which in turn increases the amount of collagen formation.5 Joseph M. Mercola and Daniel L. Kirsch coined the term “microcurrent electrical therapy” (MET) to define a new form of electromedical intervention using less than one milliampere of current delivered in biocompatible waveforms.6

Wounds initially contaminated with Pseudomonas and/or Proteus were usually sterile after several days of MET. Other investigators have also noticed similar improvements and encourage the use of this therapy as the preferred treatment for indolent ulcers.7-9 Additionally, no significant adverse effects resulting from electrotherapy on wounds have been documented.10 A review of the literature shows that MET is an effective and safe supplement to the non-surgical management of recalcitrant leg ulcers.11 In this case report, a 2-year-old mare with a large wound was successfully healed with MET.

Alpha-Stim prescription medical technology (Electromedical Products International, Inc; Mineral Wells, TX; www.alpha-stim.com) has been on the market for 24 years and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treating pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia in humans. It has been used in about 60 research studies. One study examined the efficacy of Alpha-Stim in the treatment of 8 thoroughbred horses. In a double-blind study, observers blinded to the treatment

condition recorded duration of behaviors of body locomotion, head motion, ear position, oral behavior, and the state of the lower lip. There were significant improvements in each of these behaviors in the treatment group (P < .05), but not in the sham-treated group.12

This is the first documented report using Alpha- Stim MET to heal a wound in a horse. The patient is a 2-year-old American Quarter Horse mare that had fallen on top of a T-post, creating a very large wound to her right rear quarter, damaging the tuber coxae. Bone fragments were surgically removed, the rough surface filed smooth, flushed, and the remaining wound sutured as much as possible. The suture line extended ventrally to the right flank and caudally almost to the ischium. The anterior portion post-surgically was a large gaping wound. One month of antibiotics, flushing, and treating topically ensued with slow progress. The area failed to develop healthy granulation tissue and the wound became infected.

MET was initiated on March 8, 2004 using the Alpha-Stim PPM. Four AS-Trode brand silver electrodes were placed around the wound to encompass the injury site. The small PPM unit was duct-taped on the dorsum of her rump at the tuber sacralae. At that time, the total length of the wound was 18 inches cranial to caudal, with the open lesion being 8 inches in length (Figure 1).

The Alpha-Stim PPM is preset at 0.5 Hz. To induce healing, the current was set at 100 microamperes. The horse was treated 7 days per week, 24 hours per day, for 3 weeks. By choice, the mare did not lie down on the affected side, so there was no problem with the device attachment. The device and electrodes were checked daily, changing the 9-volt battery and AS-Trodes, along with shaving the attachment site as required.

Figure 2 indicates the placement of the electrodes. Figures 3, and 4, taken after 10 days of MET, show substantial healing and a clean wound. Figure 5 was taken after MET treatment was completed on March 30, after a total of 3 weeks of daily treatment. Figure 6, the final picture, was taken July 1, 2004, when the horse was returned to training.

Robert O. Becker demonstrated that electrical current is the trigger that stimulates healing, growth, and regeneration in all living organisms.13 He found that repair of injury occurs in response to signals that come from an electrical control system, and suggested that this system became less efficient with age.

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Journal of Equine Veterinary Science  • 25(11): 418-422 • 2005

Used with permission of Electromedical Products International, Inc.

©2006 by
 

Disclaimers-  Alpha-Stim® is manufactured by Electromedical Products International, Inc. (EPI).  Chronic Pain Relief Now.Com and Moeller Medical, LLC are  not associated with EPI except to the extent of acting distributors of the Alpha-Stim® device.  The Alpha-Stim® name and the Alpha-Stim® logo are trademarks of EPI.
United States readers note:
Material on this site is being provided only for educational information and as background material for potential researchers, not for promotional purposes.
Chronic Pain Relief Now.Com and Moeller Medical, LLC express no opinion with regard to representations made herein.  Chronic Pain Relief Now.Com and Moeller Medical, LLC support only those representations contained within the labeling of the Alpha-Stim® products.
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Microcurrent Electrical Therapy Heals a Recalcitrant Wound in a Horse.