11/18/10  Every six minutes across the nation, an amputation is performed on someone with diabetes who developed a chronic non-healing wound as a complication of the disease.  Currently, one in 20 diabetics develops a wound on the legs or feet each year and the experts at the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth are using highly specialized treatments to combat this healthcare crisis.

National Diabetes Month in November highlights that the rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for the general population.  The healthcare crisis is likely to grow according to projections that one in three people born in the U.S. in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

As a National Healing Corporation (NHC) managed wound center, the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth benefits from sharing information with other experts at NHC centers which treat thousands of wound patients across the country and are on the leading edge of research and clinical trialing of new products and therapies.

“The first step in preventing diabetes-related amputations of the lower extremities actually starts at home,” said Scot Stepleton, Director of the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth  “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that comprehensive foot care programs can reduce such amputations at an astounding 45 to 85 percent.”

The experts at the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth advise those with diabetes to visually inspect their feet and between their toes each day for signs of blisters, cuts and red spots and swelling.  Medical treatment is needed if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days or shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.

In its fight against amputation the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth uses a clinical pathway that follows a practical approach to wound care, which offers progressive treatment options to physicians and reflects the most current diagnostic tests, technologies and treatments available today.

Depending upon the individual case, treatment may include hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a medical treatment approved by Medicare to treat diabetic foot ulcers.  The therapy increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, allowing oxygen to pass more easily through the plasma into the wounds to heal them.

Oxygen in the blood may have difficulty reaching leg and foot wounds naturally since those with diabetes are at greater risk for peripheral arterial disease which occurs when blood vessels in the legs are narrowed or blocked. 

In addition to treating the wound, the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth also educates diabetics about managing their disease and treatments may include regulating blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as encouraging physical activity and proper nutrition.

Patients may be referred by their physicians or make an appointment without any referral. 

For more information on the treatment of chronic or infected wounds, contact the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth located at 1919 Lake Ave., Suite 109, Plymouth, IN, at 574-941-3140.