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Senior Citizen's Guide to Cleveland

Care for the Chronic Non-Healing Wound

A chronic wound is a wound that fails to heal within one month. These wounds prevent the skin from performing its normal function of protecting against infection and holding nutrients within the body. Often these wounds are complicated by one or more chronic illnesses such as diabetes or atherosclerosis (poor blood flow). Such wounds can affect the whole person and lead to serious infections of bone and sometimes of the blood, resulting in costly treatment, amputation, loss of independence, reduced quality of life, and/or death.

Common types of chronic wounds include arterial ulcers that are a result of plague building up in the arteries reducing the amount of blood delivered to the body, venous ulcers that develop when blood pools in the lower leg veins, eventually leading to tissue breakdown, and pressure ulcers, or bed sores, that are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue usually caused by unrelieved pressure. Other chronic wounds include diabetic ulcers, bone infections, radiation skin irritations or vascular disorders resulting in poor blood circulation.

Physicians and nurses who work at wound healing centers will figure out why wounds aren’t healing and help patients learn to take care of themselves.

Physicians establish plans of care to improve each patient’s chances of healing. This plan of care may include special testing for blood flow problems and infection, among other things. The plan of care may also include special medications and wound dressings.
Nurses teach about the tests, medications, and wound dressings. They’ll also explain how to care for wounds, stop wounds from coming back, and outline steps to improve overall health since healthier people heal faster. Most importantly, the people with wounds are also involved in developing their plans of care so that it meets their needs and can be followed.

For patients with chronic wounds that do not respond to traditional treatment, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy may be prescribed. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment in which a patient breathes 100% oxygen while under pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. While receiving the treatment, patients watch movies while relaxing on a bed incased in a large see-through plastic shell as they are surrounded by 100 percent oxygen at a higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure which enables oxygen molecules to pass through the plasma to the body more easily and speed up the healing process. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is covered by most insurance plans.

Receiving treatment from specialists in wound care and hyperbaric medicine is vital to the patient’s healing process. If you currently have a wound that has not healed in less than a month please consult your physician.

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