Research into plasma pen treatment could improve its use as a wound care treatment.

A recent discovery into the unpredictable nature of plasma jets could possibly pave the way to its improved use as a treatment for wound care.

According to ScienceDaily, researchers from the University of Michigan, using computer simulations, were able to determine the source of turbulence that caused the plasma jets to drastically alter direction and velocity.

The discovery can permit clinicians to fine-tune the degree of turbulence and thereby control the amount of radicals directed to the patient’s wound during wound care treatment. Their findings have been published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

How plasma is used

According to the research, plasma is an ionized gas made up of free electrons and positively charged ions. For wound treatment, non-equilibrium atmospheric pressure plasma jets are generally made from noble gases like helium. An electronic field ionizes the gas which brings it to atmospheric pressure and to room temperature.

Plasma treatment has been found to have properties that can accelerate wound healing. In their article “The Plasma Jet kINPen – A Powerful Tool for Wound Healing” by researchers Sander Bekeschus, Anke Schmidt, Klaus-Dieter Weltmann and Thomas von Woedtke, plasma treatment can change the redox balance in skin cells and positively affect their proliferation. It can also encourage the secretion of growth factors. It’s possible that antibacterial properties could increase.

A specialized plasma – non-equilibrium atmospheric pressure plasma – has been found to be particularly effective in helping wounds heal. It’s applied with an instrument approximately the size of a pen that emits a high-speed stream of plasma. When combined with the surrounding air, it creates free radicals that activate an immune response within the wound.

Identifying the problem

The dilemma, however, is that turbulence in the plasma is unpredictable and as such makes directing the plasma to the site of the count consistently difficult.

The University of Michigan researchers discovered that the cause of the turbulence came from the plasma instrument itself – in particular, the electrodes which produced heat-induced sound waves. This discovery will hopefully lead to an improved pen that allows clinicians to fine-tune the degree of turbulence and control the level of radicals directed in the wound care treatment process.

“Now that we understand where the induced turbulence in atmospheric pressure plasma jets is coming from, it may be possible to better control it,” said lead author Amanda Lietz.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.