As New Yorkers live longer, they also must live with the increasing complications of aging and disease. Some may be bedridden, while others may be forced to use wheelchairs for mobility. It is important that those with impaired mobility or sensation be carefully monitored as they are at serious risk for developing pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores.
Pressure ulcers are the result of constant pressure on the skin, muscle or bone. They can cause extreme pain and discomfort, occurring more frequently on common pressure points such as the heel, lower back or hips. Pressure on the skin can increase the growth of bacteria, while inhibiting white blood cell function, making it difficult for the ulcer to properly heal on its own and this may result in the skin tissue dying. If bedsores are not properly treated, individuals are at an increased risk of developing life-threatening infections.
Advancements in wound care can promote the healing of pressure ulcers. At the Maimonides Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, we use a multidisciplinary approach to evaluate each patient and create an individualized treatment plan. The prescribed mode of treatment will depend on the stage and severity of the pressure ulcer, but we make available the full range of wound care options.
Stages I and II affect only the first or second layer of the skin and usually heal within several weeks. Our wound care team can provide proper wound management, including nutrition counseling, and the use of conventional or advanced dressings to keep wounds sterile and facilitate healing.
At Maimonides, we also offer treatment options for more severe stages III and IV bedsores, in which the wound may expose fat, muscle or even bone. Serious intervention from our specialists may be necessary with use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy to accelerate healing.
Patients undergoing HBO therapy are placed in a hyperbaric chamber, a highly pressurized environment which allows them to breathe increased amounts of oxygen. More oxygen in the blood and cells can promote faster healing. By using HBO therapy in conjunction with traditional treatments such as daily wound dressing, surgical removal of infected tissue and antibiotics, wounds can be successfully treated.
Don’t ignore ulcers and wounds that aren’t healing properly. Notify a nurse or primary care provider and find out if you or your loved one should see a wound care specialist. For more information about the Maimonides Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, please call (718) 283-8590.