Geko seems a swell idea


TEESIDE PATIENTS are getting to surgery faster thanks to the innovative thinking of The James Cook University Hospital trauma team.

Every year up to 200 people undergo ankle fracture surgery at the Middlesbrough hospital. For some this can mean spending up to a week in a hospital bed waiting for the swelling to reduce to a level on which surgeons can operate.

But now a neuromuscular electro-stimulation device known as a geko™ is being used to help reduce the swelling to get people into the operating theatre quicker.

The geko™, which looks a bit like a watch, sticks onto the patient’s leg above their plaster cast and causes the muscles to contract to help increase blood circulation and reduce swelling.

The device is more commonly used to help prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis), but experts at James Cook recognised that it could potentially benefit trauma patients so they teamed up with manufacturers Sky Medical Technology to trial the idea.

An initial study involving 20 patients produced extremely positive results – patients were happy to wear the device and in many cases swelling had greatly reduced within 24 hours.

Orthopaedic surgeon Paul Baker is now planning to carry out more in-depth research and to use the device on future patients.

“This could be a game changer for the treatment of swelling for ankle fractures,” he said. “As far as we are aware this has never been used for ankle fractures before.  It’s much better for patients as sitting in a hospital bed for a week can be very frustrating and can also cause people to lose muscle mass.”

Senior sister Stacey Brown said it was exciting to be the first to use the device in this way: “Patients have tolerated it really well and the results have been remarkable.”

The collaboration helped Sky Medical Technology scoop a Medilink North West Healthcare Business Award for partnership working with the NHS.

The geko™ device has secured National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance recommending its use to the NHS for DVT prevention and has FDA clearance for the USA.