Inflatable Stocking Therapy Increases Mobility

A new stocking sets the calf under
pressure; © NHS

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.

Dr. George Geroulakos and his team have shown in a trial of 34 patients with intermittent claudication that using the inflatable stocking is just as effective as intensive physiotherapy in increasing patient's mobility.

In the study, one group of patients used the stocking, known as an intermittent pneumatic foot and calf compression (IPC) device. The stocking, connected to a small pump, is wrapped around the affected leg and inflated three times every minute, squeezing blood out of the veins in the leg. The second group attended exercise sessions led by a physiotherapist, the current gold standard treatment for intermittent claudication. A third group was given an exercise regime to undertake alone. Compared with unsupervised exercise, the IPC and physiotherapist groups showed a 250% improvement in mobility. The IPC group had the highest quality of life score, ascertained by questionnaire.

"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," Geroulakos comments.

"Currently the best treatment for intermittent claudication is intense physiotherapy three times a week for up to six months. The high costs of this approach prohibit its widespread use,” he says. “The inflatable stocking technology, similar to physiotherapy, is effective in increasing the distance people can walk by two and half times and therefore an attractive alternative, especially as the treatment can be carried out at home."; Source: Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust