Pressure injuries/pressure ulcers (PIs/PUs) are a critical global healthcare issue and represent a considerable burden on healthcare resources. Prevention of PIs/PUs is the least costly approach and minimizes the patient suffering compared with treatment. Besides, sustained tissue load alleviation and microenvironment management are the most crucial properties for dressings in PI/PU prevention. Hydrogel dressings have attracted a lot of attention to prevent PIs/PUs because of their unique mechanical properties and ability to manage the microenvironment of skin. However, auxiliary prophylaxis and early treatment of PIs/PUs remain a challenge and an acute clinical demand. Here, we report on an electroactive hydrogel with large stretchability (∼380%) and skinlike ductility, and Young's modulus (0.48 ± 0.03 MPa) matches that of human skin (0.5-1.95 MPa). The hydrogel displayed piezoelectric properties and mechanical-electric response stability and sensitivity. Our results indicated that the hydrogel was able to promote in vitro angiogenesis under piezoelectric stimulation and exhibited biocompatibility, which has the potential for forming fine vessels at the damaged sites of PIs/PUs. Furthermore, finite element analysis and pressure dispersion experiments demonstrated that the hydrogel was suitable for preventing PIs/PUs by redistributing force, reducing tissue distortion, and maintaining the microenvironment for skin. This work offers a new strategy for designing and evaluating the dressing for prophylaxis and the early treatment of PIs/PUs.
Keywords: early treatment; piezoelectric hydrogel; pressure injury; pressure ulcer; prophylaxis.