Wound Care Centers Accelerate Healing: February 25, 2012

When 2-year-old Kate Anderson burned her arm helping mom in the kitchen, her mother sought expert help.

“Because at this point it was first and second degree burns, and infection was the most important thing we needed to keep away,” says Krissy Anderson.

Specialized wound care centers are increasingly being called upon to speed up healing while lowering the risk of infection. Lee Memorial Health System’s Wound Care Center and Hyperbaric Medicine is an outpatient center devoted to care and management.

“We’re set up to deal with what I would call acute wounds and these would be things such as burns, large lacerations, large abrasions, drained abscesses. The kind of thing that you would go to the emergency room for the initial treatment but then would need several weeks of follow-up treatment,” says Dr. Robert Kupsaw, Medical Director of Lee Memorial Health System's Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine.

But a large portion of their cases involves chronic wounds, commonly related to diabetes. The wound center has an arsenal of high tech solutions to combat this growing problem.

“We offer total contact casting which is used in certain diabetic wounds. We offer what are called bioengineered skin equivalents, which can be useful both in venous wounds and diabetic wounds and then of course we have hyperbaric oxygen therapy,” says Dr. Kupsaw.

This may be the Cadillac of wound care. The hyperbaric chamber puts patients in a controlled environment and delivers 100% oxygen, which speeds healing.

“The hyperbaric oxygen super-charges the blood and therefore the body with oxygen and can enable some of these types of wounds to heal,” says Dr. Kupsaw.

A study from the CDC showed the rate of leg and foot amputations among older adults with diabetes decreased 65% between 1996 and 2008, due to early diagnosis and better treatment, including wound care. Diabetes is one of several health conditions that create problems.

“Obesity, heart and lung disease, arterial disease, previous radiation for cancer. . . As our population gets older and is living longer we’re just seeing a higher and higher incidence of these diseases and therefore higher and higher incidence of chronic non-healing wounds,” says Dr. Kupsaw.

Kate was a quick fix by wound care standards and her painful experience is a fading memory.

“Right now everything is 100% healed. There aren’t any open wounds,” says Krissy.