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An electrotherapy sock worn while sleeping is being hailed as the new wave of diabetes foot care. Prizm Medical Inc., manufacturers of the Silver-Thera Stocking Electrode, has enlisted top diabetes foot care researchers to verify its claim that the sock's electrotherapy relieves foot pain, improves circulation and even possibly regenerates nerves.
Recently approved by the FDA and Medicare, the Silver-Thera consists of the sock, which itself is an electrode, and the Micro-Z, which is an attached neuromuscular stimulator that supplies the electric energy.
Lawrence Lavery, DPM, MPH, and David Armstrong, DPM, of the Diabetes Foot Clinic at the University of Texas in San Antonio, have performed clinical tests of the Silver-Thera stocking. They studied 40 people with diabetic foot neuropathy, giving 20 people the Silver-Thera and the other 20 people a sham unit. After 12 weeks, says Armstrong, the Silver-Thera proved to heal wounds about 70 percent more often.
Armstrong admitted that before the trials, they were skeptical, as electrotherapy was considered a "pseudoscience." Yet the problem, he said, was that it was always hard to judge electrotherapy because doctors never knew the precise foot area on which to apply electric currents. With the sock, the currents are spread throughout the entire sock, covering midcalf to toe, says Armstrong.
Two other studies conducted at the University of Texas have shown that the sock helps reduce neuropathic pain and improve blood flow, although at numbers less dramatic than 70 percent.
The technology behind the sock is based on physiology, where electrical stimulation facilitates the movement of ions, or energy, from cell to cell. Johnson explains that in the human body, energy travels from cell to cell through electro-chemical physiology, or the exchange of ions. Normal human skin is electro-negative, while wounds are electro-positive. In the normal healing process, the body forms a "battery," the wound turns negative, thus completing the healing cycle. "With this garment, we're mimicking that," says Jim Johnson, president of Prizm Medical.
"Blood circulation is a round trip ticket," says Johnson. The arteries bring oxygen and nutrion to the cells to heal. On the return trip, the veins pulls off carbon dioxide, waste and edema. "If circulation is disrupted through diabetes," says Johnson, "you can't efficiently get oxygen to heal, and you can't get waste to leave."
Johnson continues by saying that taking drugs relieves pain but does not heal. "If you improve circulation, you're helping healing."
Both Johnson and Armstrong accentuated the need for people to use the Silver-Thera in conjunction with proper disease management, like proper nutrition, exercise and glucose management.
Guaranteed by Prizm Medical for three months, the stocking can be washed in a cold water or a gentle cycle in a washing machine. Johnson predicted that with proper care the garment should last six months to one year.
The Silver-Thera must be prescribed by a doctor and is covered by Medicare and other insurance policies. Call Prizm Medical at (800) 447-4422 for more information or visit their Web site at www.prizm-medical.com.
Dec 1, 1998
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.