Far Infrared Therapy Unit Appeal

Below, Vascular Nurse, Michelle Johnson explains the befits of the FIR Therapy Unit that DaBKA presented to DRI 

After attending an annual conference at VASBI (Vascular Access Society of Britain and Ireland) I learned about Far Infrared therapy, and how it is being trailed with haemodialysis patients. The rep from Stanningley was very keen for dialysis units to trial a machine for free over a 3 month period.

I identified a pool of patients who may benefit from the therapy, and began to use the FIR therapy straight away.

A randomised control trial (Lin CC et al. American Journal of Kidney Disease (2013) shows the following benefits of using FIR therapy for 12 months post AVF creation.

· less pain during dialysis via an AV fistula

·  improved maturation rates of new  AV fistula and improved patency rates

·  reduction in haematomas, reduction of inflammation

· Improved AVF  blood flow

· Reduction in interventions

· Reduced hospital stays


Our experiences at Doncaster Royal Infirmary have been very interesting.

We have used the FIR machine on patients experiencing pain in their fistula during dialysis, and had very positive feedback.  One patient could only tolerate fistula cannulation if the FIR machine was used for 10 minutes before hand, and then had the remaining 30 minutes of treatment once he was connected to the dialysis machine. Other patients who use the machine regularly suffered with arm or hand pain, and all but one patient stated that the FIR therapy did reduce the discomfort, and enabled them to stay on dialysis longer.


I have used the FIR therapy on 3 AV fistulas which were very small and not thriving. Two of these AVF failed to mature despite 6 weeks of treatment 3x weekly. The third was successfully mature after only 4 weeks, and is dialysing well.


I am planning on selecting a few more patients to use the FIR on as a maturation exercise from one week post op.


We get the most use out of the FIR therapy for reduction in inflammation and haematomas, either post op or post needle infiltration, especially in fistulas which are being used for the first time.  We also use it on patients with AV grafts, who tend to suffer more with swelling and bruising in the early days post op.  After an infiltration we may have to rest the arm or miss a few dialysis sessions, but with the FIR therapy, we use the fistula at the next session and dialyse as normal and the bruising reduces at a much faster rate compared to just applying ice.


The patients who do use the machine have reported less discomfort in their fistula arm during dialysis, and they like the warm comforting sensation during treatment.  I believe this therapy has made dialysis less uncomfortable for a number of patients, there are no reported side effects, and it’s so safe and simple to use.

Michelle Johnson