Health Info & Resources for Seniors
Wound Care Specialists Can Help You Heal
“People with diabetes are at risk for developing hard-to-heal wounds that can cause serious infections”, says wound care specialist Steven Bowers, DO, Network Medical Director of Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at St. Luke’s University Health Network. “Diabetes and wounds are a dangerous combination” Dr. Bowers says. “Left untreated, wounds can become infected. These infections can be quite serious and can result in amputation or even death.”
Feet are particularly vulnerable, he adds. Diabetes can cause nerve damage, called neuropathy, which often results in decreased sensation in the legs and feet. As a result, patients may have an injury and not even realize it. In addition, many people with diabetes have poor circulation, which affects one’s ability to heal and fight infection. For these reasons, it’s crucial that individuals with diabetes, check their feet daily for any cuts, scrapes or bruises. Dr. Bowers suggests that his patients wear comfortable shoes that provide protection. “Leave the flip flops and stilettos behind. Instead wear a sturdy pair of closed-toe shoes. They may not be the most fashionable choice, but wearing good shoes, such as sneakers, will greatly reduce foot injuries.”
If you have an injury, be sure to clean it thoroughly and cover it with a clean bandage each day. If the wound does not heal after several weeks or if it looks bad, or has an odor, seek medical help from your primary care physician or a wound care center, he advises. “Centers like the St. Luke’s Wound Management & Hyperbaric Centers are particularly effective at healing wounds,” he says. “They are staffed by experts whose primary job is wound care. As a result, they are up to date with the most advanced treatments and are equipped with the latest technology.”
For some wounds, this might include hyperbaric oxygen treatment, available at many St. Luke’s Wound Centers. With this treatment, patients lie in chambers filled with pressurized oxygen. The patient’s blood carries the oxygen throughout the body, increasing the body’s ability to fight bacteria and heal With Medicare and most commercial insurance plans, patients can schedule an appointment with a wound care center directly. They do not need a referral from their primary care physician. “When treating patients with diabetes at St. Luke’s, our wound care specialists work closely with your endocrinologist or primary care doctor to ensure that you get well coordinated, high quality care,” Dr. Bowers says.