Non-Thermal Pulsed Electromagnetic Energy

Keast et al. (2006),in updating best practices recommendations for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, recommends considering electromagnetic fields as one adjunctive modality for stimulating closure of chronic non-healing pressure ulcers even though results from more than one RCT are not consistent. Electromagnetic energy is believed to act at the proliferative stage of wound healing to promote production of granulation tissue formation (Houghton & Campbell 2007).

Table: Non-Thermal Pulsed Electromagnetic Energy for Healing of Pressure Ulcers Post SCI


An RCT studying the effects of electromagnetic energy on pressure ulcer healing in patients with SCI (Salzberg et al. 1995) evaluated the effects of non-thermal pulsed electromagnetic energy for healing of stage II and III ulcers in patients with SCI. In the stage II ulcer group (n=10), a greater proportion of ulcers healed (84%) after one week of treatment compared to the control group (40%; p=0.01). For complete healing, the treatment group healed in a median 13 days versus 31.5 days for controls (p<0.001). In the stage III ulcer group, healing was also associated with non-thermal pulsed electromagnetic energy treatment where three of five ulcers healed, on average, within 43 days. In the control group none of the ulcers healed. Ulcer area decreased 70.6% in the treatment group versus 20.7% in the control group.

In a Cochrane systematic review, Ravaghi et al. (2006) examined two articles and found no statistically significant difference in the healing rates of people treated with electromagnetic therapy compared to controls. More research is needed to further our understanding of the mechanism of action of non-thermal pulsed electromagnetic energy and its role in pressure ulcer healing in individuals post SCI.


There is level 1b evidence (from one randomized controlled trial; Salzberg et al. 1995) that pulsed electromagnetic energy accelerates healing of stage II and III pressure ulcers post SCI.

  • Pulsed electromagnetic energy improves wound healing in Stage II and Stage III pressure ulcers post SCI.