It’s a high tech chamber of healing, destination for the torn and tattered. Wound care centers are saving limbs and quality of life.
“The Wound Care Center was originally set up to deal with chronic wounds which is an increasing problem as chronic diseases increase. But in addition to the chronic wounds we’re also set up to deal with acute wounds such as burns, large lacerations, large abrasions, drained abscesses,” says Dr. Robert Kupsaw, medical director of Lee Memorial Health System's Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine.
One of the most common treatments is for diabetic wounds. It’s estimated within three decades a third of Americans will be diabetic or pre-diabetic, 25% will develop ulcers in their limbs, 15-20% requiring amputation. Dedicated wound centers are using advanced tools to encourage healing.
“One is a bio engineered growth factor, which can be useful in diabetic wounds for re-growing tissue. Then there’s something called tissue cultured skin substitute, which is actually living skin. There’s also what we call A-cellular dermal equivalence, which are not living tissue but are coverings for wounds that can initiate tissue growth,” says Dr. Kupsaw.
Hyperbaric chambers expose patients to 100% oxygen, which promotes the growth of new blood vessels, which can help healing.
As people live longer, the greater the risk they have to develop health conditions that hinder healing. A rule of thumb is anything that doesn’t start to heal within four weeks needs help.
“If you can heal these wounds you can for the most part eliminate the risk of amputation which is a huge triumph,” says Dr. Kupsaw.