Compression therapy is widely accepted as an effective component of lymphoedema treatment. We studied its function to understand if we could advance the materials used to achieve a more effective compression system and greater gains for patient mobility and lifestyle.
The science and innovation lies within the compression bandages themselves. By developing materials engineered to deliver Intelligent Compression Dynamics, 3M™ Coban™ provides comfortable, therapeutic compression therapy for the management of venous leg ulcers and lymphoedema. Forming a comfortable, rigid sleeve our compression system reduces oedema by consistently delivering the right amount of compression.
Studies from clinicians around the world prove that 3M™ Coban™ 2 Two-Layer Compression Systems are able to provide effective compression therapy, which has been shown to reduce chronic oedema, support healing and reduce wound size (Mosti, 2011), and significantly reduce leg pain (Mosti, 2011). Additionally, 3M™ Coban™ 2 Two-Layer Compression Systems are fast and easy to apply (Mosti, 2011) and are less bulky compared to four-layer compression systems.
3M™ Coban™ 2 Two-Layer Compression System is made up of two thin layers to provide the stiffness required to generate sustained working, or low resting pressures. These compression bandages reduce oedema and prevent venous reflux equally as well as traditional compression bandages, but without the bulk.
Patients can easily perform daily activities because the compression bandages are lightweight, flexible and facilitate mobility. Plus, as the layers are so thin, patients may wear regular footwear and clothing.
Studies have shown that because 3M™ Coban™ 2 Two-Layer Compression System stays in place and is comfortable, patients are more likely to keep the compression bandages on, increasing concordance and improving the potential for more effective therapy. (Moffatt, 2008) (Moffatt, 2012)
The unique interlocking layers cohere to each other, creating an inelastic sleeve that conforms to the limb and reduces the potential for compression bandages slipping and causing discomfort.
The compression system is latex-free, hypoallergenic and non-irritating which helps to protect and improve skin integrity.
Highlighted as best practice in the 2015 Global Consensus Document, ‘progressive compression’ is achieved with 3M™ Coban™ 2 Two-Layer Compression System, where both layers bond together to form a rigid sleeve (Mosti, 2011)
When you look at a giraffe, what do you see? A tall, graceful animal that roams the African plains? What if you saw it through the lens of 3M’s culture of curiosity, which encourages risk-taking and rejects the ordinary? You might see a new way to treat a painful and serious medical condition for humans, such as venous leg ulcers (a serious complication of uncontrolled high venous pressures due to damaged veins, valves or poor muscle function).
Fortunately for leg ulcer sufferers, challenges like this stimulate the curiosity of 3M scientists and inspire creative approaches to solving problems. In this case, a 3M product developer in Germany recalled reading that giraffes never suffer from venous ulcers. He wondered how that could be, given that the distance from their legs to their hearts is twice that of humans, requiring higher pressure to maintain circulation and putting more stress on veins.
It occurred to him that the giraffe’s tough, non-elastic skin functions like a compression bandage, maximising the effect of every muscle movement to optimise return of blood, preventing swelling and ulcers. With that realisation, the 3M team began a quest for materials that would reproduce the properties of giraffe skin. While 3M curiosity stimulated the opportunity, collaboration propelled the momentum towards the solution. The human and technological connections within 3M allow for infinite combinations and applications of expertise, enabling ideas to multiply and solutions to expand.
After investigating a number of materials with mixed success, one of the members of the 3M team suggested trying the material used in 3M™ Coban™ Self-Adherent Wraps — an elastic material used to wrap sprains and secure dressings. Based on one of 3M’s core technologies known as Nonwovens, these wraps were introduced in the 1960s, derived from a material 3M initially developed to make gift wrapping ribbon. Today, the technology is used in thousands of products ranging from the surgical masks to floor scrubbing pads to insulation for apparel.
The team went back to work, modifying the Coban™ brand material and engineering a 3M™ Coban™ 2 Two-Layer Compression System that consists of a foam layer to address lingering comfort challenges along with a short stretch compression layer. When the two layers are applied they interlock, forming a thin, inelastic sleeve for the leg that is easier for clinicians to apply than conventional four-layer systems or zinc paste bandages and provides an ideal balance of comfort and compression. At 3M, the instinct to find better ways of solving problems is second nature. This time it started with a giraffe – proving that in the world of innovation, no problem is too tall.
1. Mosti G, Crespi A, Mattaliano V. Comparison Between a New, Two-component Compression System with Zinc Paste Bandages for Leg Ulcer Healing: A Prospective, Multicenter, Randomized, Controlled Trial Monitoring Sub-bandage Pressures. Wounds 2011;23(5):126-134.
2. Moffatt C et al (2012) ‘A preliminary randomized controlled study to determine the application frequency of a new lymphoedema bandaging system.’ British Journal of Dermatology 166.3: 624-632.
3. Moffatt C et al (2008) ‘A randomised controlled 8-week crossover clinical evaluation of the 3M™ Coban™ 2 Layer Compression System versus Profore™ to evaluate the product performance in patients with venous leg ulcers’. International Wound Journal; 5:267-279.