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Easing the pressure for patients with chronic wounds

The E-Stim Collaboration: A Best Practice Implementation Project for Better Pressure Ulcer Care aims to improve the coordination of pressure ulcer care and promote the use of evidence-informed wound treatments for people living with SCI.

Photo of a bandaged hand
St. Joseph’s: Parkwood Institute - 

Chronic wounds represent a significant burden in Canada. Between four and 30 per cent of patients develop a chronic wound, depending on the health care setting. Over 85 per cent of all Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) survivors will experience health complications related to pressure ulcers, injuries to the skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure. These types of wounds can significantly reduce participation in meaningful activities and overall quality of life. 

Research from around the world shows that electrical stimulation can help speed the healing of pressure ulcers. This therapy is currently done by a trained health care provider and is not readily available for people across Canada.Electrical stimulation therapy (E-Stim) is a wound treatment that involves applying low levels of electrical current to the wound bed and surrounding tissues. It stimulates several healing processes, promotes local circulation and prevents infections. 

The E-Stim Collaboration: A Best Practice Implementation Project for Better Pressure Ulcer Care aims to improve the coordination of pressure ulcer care and promote the use of evidence-informed wound treatments for people living with SCI. In particular, the research project is studying how to best provide E-Stim to people with pressure ulcers, in their own communities.

“Over the years I’ve seen the serious impact pressure ulcers have on the lives of people with spinal cord injury and other health challenges. This is what drives my commitment to not only develop best practice guidelines, but also to ensure they are put into action,” says Dr. Pamela Houghton, Associate Scientist, Lawson and Professor, School of Physical Therapy at Western University. “Advances in technology make it possible for more people with care needs to live at home.”

The pilot project in the South West LHIN has a unique model that builds capacity in the community and taps into the lived experience of people with pressure ulcers and SCI. It brings together the expertise of researchers, clinicians and managers from academia, hospital centres and community care.

Partners include the Parkwood Institute Research program at Lawson Health Research Institute, Western University, Saint Elizabeth’s Health Care Research Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the South West Community Care Access Centre. An interdisciplinary specialized team, called SCIPUT, has been established within the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation program provided at Parkwood Institute, St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

“Our collaborative team is using the PLAN-DO-STUDY-ACT quality improvement model. This allows us to learn from each cycle and make adjustments as we go,” says Dr. Houghton. “We have just completed the first cycle and are reporting on lessons learned.” Funded by the Rick Hansen Foundation, the team hopes this will set the stage for a larger cross-country initiative.

Those interested in participating can contact phoughto@uwo.ca. The study is open to:

  • Individuals with an open pressure ulcer and with a condition that causes limited mobility and/or requires a wheelchair;
  • Those who are able and willing to participate in treatment plan, and communicate feedback; and,
  • People who are eligible to receive services from South West CCAC.

Electrical stimulation (E-Stim) directly stimulates several wound healing processes, promotes local circulation and prevents wound infections. It produces faster healing and wound closure. A trained health care provider applies low levels of electrical current to the pressure ulcer using specialized equipment. 

 

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