Inflatable stockings? Is this some kind of emergency ship life saving equipment? No, it’s a device that could be used as an alternative to physiotherapy to treat patients with artery diseases. The stocking, connected to a small pump, is wrapped around the affected leg and inflated, squeezing blood out of the veins in the leg.
It could provide relief for thousands of elderly people suffering mobility problems due to artery disease, according to Imperial College London researchers at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust and Ealing Hospitals NHS Trust.
In a small trial, patients with intermittent claudication found they could walk up to two and a half times as far without symptoms after using an inflatable compression stocking for three hours a day for six months. Relief from symptoms continued for up to a year after the treatment had finished. The results of the study were published at the European Journal for Vascular Surgery. From the BBC:
“We are astounded by the effectiveness of this therapy which does not involve drugs and invasive procedures, and can even be quite pleasant for the patient,” says Dr Geroulakos consultant vascular surgeon who led the research.