Vibration may help heal chronic wounds

March 31, 2014
This is a photo of Eileen Weinheimer-Haus, first author, and Timothy Koh, principal investigator. Credit: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/University of Illinois at Chicago

Wounds may heal more quickly if exposed to low-intensity vibration, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The finding, in mice, may hold promise for the 18 million Americans who have type 2 diabetes, and especially the quarter of them who will eventually suffer from foot ulcers. Their tend to heal slowly and can become chronic or worsen rapidly.

Timothy Koh, UIC professor of kinesiology and nutrition in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, was intrigued by studies at Stony Brook University in New York that used very low-intensity signals to accelerate bone regeneration.

"This technique is already in clinical trials to see if can improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis," Koh said.

Koh and his coworkers at UIC collaborated with Stefan Judex of Stony Brook to investigate whether the same technique might improve in diabetes. The new study, using an experimental mouse model of diabetes, is published online in the journal PLOS One.

The low-amplitude vibrations are barely perceptible to touch.

"It's more like a buzz than an earthquake," said Eileen Weinheimer-Haus, UIC postdoctoral fellow in kinesiology and nutrition, the first author of the study.

The researchers found that wounds exposed to vibration five times a week for 30 minutes healed more quickly than wounds in mice of a control group.

Wounds exposed to vibration formed more , a type of tissue important early in the wound-healing process. Vibration helped tissue to form new blood vessels—a process called angiogenesis—and also led to increased expression of pro-healing growth factors and signaling molecules called chemokines, Weinheimer-Haus said.

"We know that in people with diabetes fail to form granulation tissue and have poor angiogenesis, and we believe these factors contribute to their wounds' failure to heal," said Koh. He and his colleagues want to determine whether the changes they see in cell populations and gene expression at wound sites underlie the observed improvement in healing.

"The exciting thing about this intervention is how easily it could be translated to people," Koh said. "It's a procedure that's non-invasive, doesn't require any drugs, and is already being tested in human trials to see if it's protective of bone loss." A clinical study, in collaboration with Dr. William Ennis, director of the Wound Healing Clinic at UIC, is planned, Koh said.

Explore further: Breakthrough research discovery to help heal chronic wounds

Related Stories

Researchers explain why some wound infections become chronic

December 17, 2013

Chronic wounds affect an estimated 6.5 million Americans at an annual cost of about $25 billion. Further, foot blisters and other diabetic ulcers or sores account for the vast majority of foot and leg amputations in the United ...

Recommended for you

Flu study, on hold, yields new vaccine technology

September 2, 2015

Vaccines to protect against an avian influenza pandemic as well as seasonal flu may be mass produced more quickly and efficiently using technology described today by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the ...

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.