Researchers have discovered that low-intensity ultrasound can significantly increase the healing time of bedsores and skin ulcers by one-third of the usual time required. They observed that the transmitted vibrations stimulates cells in wounds and accelerates the process of healing.

The findings were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, and were a collaborative effort between the University of Sheffield’s Department of Biomedical Science, University of Bristol’s School of Biochemistry, the Wound Biology Group at the Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair, and the Orthopaedic Company, Bioventus LLC.

The Current Statistics

According to UK statistics, there are a total of 11 million individuals over the age of 65, three million individuals who are diabetic and 10 million smokers. All of these individuals are equally susceptible – due to their age, disease and lifestyle – to suffer from problems related to wound healing. One-fourth of the diabetics develop skin ulcers, especially on the feet, due to the reduced sensation and blood circulation to their extremities.

It has been reported that above 200,000 patients suffer from chronic wounds annually, which build up over £3.1 billion in costs to the NHS. Moreover, these wounds become extremely painful and distressing for patients – leading to limb amputation in certain severe cases.

How Ultrasound Helps The Healing Process

Lead author, Dr Mark Bass from the University’s Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics (CMIAD) stated that using ultrasound treatment could not only enhance the healing process, it could also reduce and prevent wounds from getting infected, which is fairly common in diabetics and elderly patients. He also highlighted that since the treatment simply accelerates normal healing mechanisms, it had no potential side-effects often seen with drugs.

Potential Use In The Future

“Now that we have proven the effectiveness of ultrasound we need to explore the signal further”, Dr Bass further commented. “We have found that the ultrasound signal we currently use is effective, but it is possible that by refining the treatment we could improve the effects even further”.

Due to its relatively risk-free nature, researchers hope that ultrasound treatment for healing skin ulcers and sores would be applicable in clinical settings within the next three to four years.