Tag Archives: wound management

Wound healing clinic to change lives

A dedicated wound healing clinic – the first in Australia – opens on Tuesday, 7 March. It draws together a pool of specialist wound healing talent that includes a vascular surgeon, nurse practitioners, an advanced podiatrist and specialist wound nurses in one spot to treat and assess chronic wounds.

The clinic, Wound Innovations, is in Spring Hill, Brisbane and accessible to all Australians via the Spring Hill teleclinic, which connects patients and health professionals with a specialist from Wound Innovations through videoconferencing facilities. Wound Innovations also offers education for health professionals and will be a site for clinical trials and other research projects. 

Living with a serious wound is incredibly debilitating. “Wounds are painful and can exude a fluid. People with a wound can suffer from a lack of mobility and this leads to less social interaction, and isolation,” explains Dr Ian Griffiths, CEO of the Wound Management Innovation Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), which runs Wound Innovations.

“Often people are afraid to go out because of the smell from their wounds. It can take you down a very dark path.”

Dr Griffiths says there is medical research linking wounds with depression as well as dementia.

The teleclinic takes high resolution photos of each patient’s wounds to monitor progress and the patient provides feedback, while wound healing experts make recommendations for future care. Appointments may attract a Medicare rebate.

Griffiths expects the wound healing clinic and teleclinic to be a life changer for patients and plans to open other wound healing clinics with specialised teams in capital cities around Australia.

He also expects dramatic savings to the Australian healthcare system as fewer people with wounds will end up in hospital. The Wound CRC estimates that wound healing and management costs the Australian healthcare system $2.85 billion a year, but this is considered a conservative figure and one that covers only the tip of the iceberg.

Griffiths hopes big institutions such as aged and residential care homes will join the clinical service and teleclinic. Some have large percentages of residents who need constant, ongoing wound care. “I know of one aged care home with 38% of residents with chronic wounds,” says Griffiths.

Some of the worst wounds to treat stem from chronic diseases such as diabetes. There are more than 4400 amputations in Australia because of diabetic foot wounds and every 30 seconds a lower limb is lost around the world.

Funded by the Federal Government, the Wound CRC has carried out industry led research since 2010. One research project showed that 78% of patients with venous leg ulcers will heal over a 12-week period by using best practice wound care, including compression bandaging.

Patients in many of the CRC’s studies live with the ulcers for 10 to 20 years. In one case, a patient lived with ulcers for 54 years. At the time, Wound CRC was recruiting patients for a project studying wounds that did not clear up after 12 weeks.

The CRC’s extensive wound healing research stretching over seven years is helping the 433,000 Australian patients who are suffering from chronic wounds at any one time. Their research covers diabetic foot ulcers, burns, skin tears, acute surgical wounds and pressure injuries.

For more information visit woundinnovations.com.au or call 1300 968 637.

Smart sole support for diabetic feet

Experts from the Wound Management Innovation CRC, based at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, said a shoe insole that communicates with the wearer’s phone could prevent foot injuries among diabetics.

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases globally, with the number of people living with diabetes worldwide set to grow from 382 million in 2013 to 592 million by 2035, according to Diabetes Australia. Poor blood glucose control among diabetics can cause nerve damage to feet and inhibit blood supply. This results in an absence of sensation in the feet, which can lead to serious foot injury.

200115_woundmgmt_box2The CRC is about to start a patient trial of an insole made using pressure-sensing fabric that sends a message to a smartphone warning of potential damage to a diabetic’s feet.

The pressure-sensitive fabric was originally developed at RMIT University for elite athletes. It has since been fine-tuned in consultation with experts in podiatry from Southern Cross University.

Electronics in the insole will pick up changes in the distribution of pressure applied in each step, which are indicative of a wearer subconsciously favouring a foot or part of a foot. The electronics will then communicate wirelessly to the wearer’s smartphone at the point where the patient is at risk of foot damage.

Diabetics are prone to minor breaks in the skin of the foot, which can lead to ulcers. Patients with a history of these ulcers have a high risk of the problem recurring, so the trial will initially determine if the technology can reduce the recurrence of skin breaks. An ulcer on the bottom of the foot can develop into an injury that penetrates to the bone and can cause chronic infections, open sores and eventually result in amputation.
CRC Chief Executive Officer Dr Ian Griffiths said the technology had the potential to reduce the incidence of ulcer recurrence among people living with diabetes, saving them from severe pain, possible amputation and incapacity.

200115_woungmgmt_box“Diabetics have to be very careful of foot injuries. An injury can cause months of pain and anguish. It can keep diabetics off their feet and stop them going to work, doing the shopping – generally leading a normal life.”

The CRC initiative involves QUT, Southern Cross University, RMIT and its industrial partner Smith & Nephew as an advisor.

The CRC, funded until July 2018, is working with similar organisations in Canada and Wales to leverage strengths in scientific and clinical research and education through an International Wound Management Research Collaboration. The project will focus on a postgraduate student exchange program and establish the International Registry of Wounds.