Thermo-Therapeutics for Vascular Dysfunction
- Countermeasures to “cold” sensations
- Thermal-based strategies to improve vasodialtion and blood flow
- Thermal devices compatible with daily living
- New therapies not in the distant future but now
Study of thermal effects on peripheral blood flow and treatments for Raynauld’s syndrome, arterioscelrosis and other vascular diseases common in the elderly
Osaka University Hospital sees a high number of patients suffering from connective tissue disease. Many of these patients suffer from poor blood flow to the limbs, which in severe cases requires amputation. Poor blood circulation is also commonly seen with the elderly, leaving them with cold feelings in the limbs. In Japan, where the elderly population is rising greatly, there is an anticipated increase in the number of patients suffering from cold limbs related to blood circulation. In response, we are investigating safe heating methods that improve blood circulation.
While there exist simple solutions like wearing gloves, they can be disruptive to work and other daily activities. We have been developing new technologies that warm the fingers without impeding them. Here, the heater is wrapped around the wrist, giving the patient free use of the hand while raising the local body temperature. Interestingly, the raised temperature could be preserved even after removing the device following one week of use. We are now considering other parts of the body for similar treatment, such as the neck, shoulders, and ankles. While considering convenience for the patient, we must also consider the therapeutic mechanism that benefits limbs that are especially susceptible to cold, such as the fingers and toes, and the avoidance of unwanted side effects, such as burning or severe vasodilation, when deciding where to locate the devise.
The understanding that heat improves blood flow has been with us since ancient times. However, we still have poor grasp on the best ways to apply the heat. Our research seeks to answer this question for better medical treatment against health issues related to poor blood circulation.