Electric stimulation as an adjunct to heal diabetic foot ulcers: A randomized clinical trial

Edgar J. Peters, Lawrence A. Lavery, David G. Armstrong, John G. Fleischli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate high-voltage, pulse-galvanic electric stimulation as an adjunct to healing diabetic foot ulcers. Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Setting: University medical center. Patients: Forty patients with diabetic foot ulcers, consecutively sampled. Twenty patients each assigned to treatment and placebo groups. Five patients (2 treated, 3 placebo) withdrew because of severe infection. Interventions: Electric stimulation through a microcomputer every night for 8 hours. The placebo group used identical functioning units that delivered no current. Additional wound care consisted of weekly débridements, topical hydrogel, and off-loading with removable cast walkers. Patients were followed for 12 weeks or until healing, whichever occurred first. Main Outcome Measures: Proportion of wounds that healed during the study period. Compliance with use of device (in hr/wk), rate of wound healing, and time until healing. Results: Sixty-five percent of the patients healed in the group treated with stimulation, whereas 35% healed with placebo (p = .058). After stratification by compliance, a significant difference was identified among compliant patients in the treatment group (71% healed), noncompliant patients in the treatment group (50% healed), compliant patients in the placebo group (39% healed), and noncompliant patients in the placebo group (29% healed, linear-by-linear association = 4.32, p = .038). There was no significant difference in compliance between the 2 groups. Conclusion: Electric simulation enhances wound healing when used in conjunction with appropriate off-loading and local wound care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-725
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diabetic foot
  • Electric stimulation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Ulcer
  • Wound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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