April 19, 2024 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

The Wound Wrap


Because there’s always something fascinating in the world of wound care

In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of news in the wound care world, including a new report on the growing demand for biological skin substitutes, a study that may have a large impact on the care of diabetic ulcers in the future, and new ways to help provide wound care to the unhoused. Read on for these fascinating wound care developments and more below.

Biological Skin Substitutes on the Rise

The global market size for biological skin substitutes reached $325.9 million in 2023, according to a recent report by IMARC Group. The market research firm also projected continued growth of 7.1% over the next eight years, reaching $604.6 million by 2032.

These lab-grown alternatives made from natural, biocompatible materials like collagen or cultured skin cells have played a crucial role in wound care and are one of the key reasons the market size is growing. Advancements in tissue engineering technologies have transformed the landscape of biological skin substitute development. Tissue engineering integrates cells, scaffolds, and biochemical elements to fabricate functional tissues, marking a significant evolution in the field.

The report notes that a higher number of chronic wounds, such as diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers, and venous leg ulcers, has driven demand, as persistent wounds represent a substantial healthcare challenge, often resulting in extended hospitalization periods, diminished quality of life, and elevated healthcare expenditures. Biological skin substitutes present a potential new opportunity for addressing chronic wound care by encouraging wound healing, lowering infection risks, and mitigating scarring. The increasing number of elderly individuals, alongside the escalating incidence of diabetes and vascular diseases, has fueled the surge in chronic wound instances globally.

Additionally, lifestyle elements such as obesity, sedentary habits, and inadequate wound management practices increase the likelihood of chronic wound formation. Consequently, there is growing demand for advanced wound care treatments, including biological skin substitutes, to tackle this ever-more relevant healthcare issue.

Why it Matters: While there have been remarkable advances in skin substitutes; there are also challenges. For example, reimbursement for skin substitutes depends on a variety of regulations and settings.  Look for solutions that help ensure wound care providers have the appropriate coding and documentation to remain compliant with regulations and receive optimal reimbursement. Learn more about specialzed EHRs in Wound Care here.

The expanding recognition of the advantages associated with biological skin substitutes among healthcare providers, patients, and caregivers is driving market growth, resulting in those impressive totals anticipated in the coming decade. Educational campaigns, scientific symposiums, and training sessions facilitated by manufacturers, healthcare institutions, and professional associations are helping to disseminate information regarding the latest innovations in wound management and tissue engineering.

Homeless Populations Need Quality Wound Care Solutions

Wound care management for unhoused individuals has always been a big challenge, with a lack of infrastructure to properly handle the needs of this population, healthcare and otherwise, and the tendency of those impacted to shy away from any treatment. What’s more, social determinants of health can reduce life expectancy by up to 30 years for those without a home, and many of them have complex health issues, including serious wounds. It’s a growing concern among the homeless; causes like trauma, underlying intravenous drug abuse, chronic illnesses, malnutrition, residential instability, and unhygienic living conditions, common in homeless populations, contribute to the issue.

Now there appears to be an increased awareness and recognition of the importance of treating wounds of those challenged with homelessness, and efforts are being made to help. A growing number of providers, especially medical and nursing students, are taking part in designated street medicine programs to offer access to health care and attempt to limit the downstream health impact of homelessness. Wound care is a growing aspect of the care they provide. A recent paper by the National Institutes of Health and Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center assessed how community-based programs can be useful in establishing successful wound care services for unhoused individuals.

The research conducted a narrative review focused on existing and proposed community-based program models aimed at addressing the wound care requirements of homeless individuals. Additionally, it evaluated the cost-effectiveness and presented findings from a survey conducted among homeless clients and their healthcare providers at a community-based wound care program in Honolulu, Hawaii. This investigation yielded crucial insights into population-specific logistics and policies necessary to cater to the medical needs of vulnerable individuals.

Why it Matters: Communities and healthcare organizations can make a difference in addressing the full spectrum of healthcare needs among unhoused populations. Digital mobile apps can play a big role for mobile wound care clinics and other entities seeking to provide care and interventions.  Learn more about digital imaging solutions here.

Key findings indicate that drop-in services are highly effective, given that the target population typically exhibits reluctance to access appropriate healthcare services. Moreover, interdisciplinary teams within community-based clinics prove successful in addressing numerous unique needs of this population, including communicable disease screening, syringe exchange, supportive temporary housing, case management services, and delivering preventative education.

New Study Investigates Better Treatment of Chronic Diabetic Wounds

Approximately one-third of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer during their lifetime, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Each year, diabetic foot ulcers affect about 18.6 million people worldwide and 1.6 million in the U.S. The severe complications associated with these wounds are difficult to treat and often lead to amputation. Recently, researchers from Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University published a study that could have a profound impact on the future care of diabetic ulcers.

In their study, published in the journal Burns & Trauma, the researchers found that exosomes, obtained from adipose mesenchymal stem cells (ADSC-Exos), could drastically accelerate the healing process of skin wounds in diabetic mice. High glucose levels in diabetic wounds are known to disrupt normal cellular processes, such as autophagy, impairing the wound’s ability to heal. However, the researchers showed that through a series of sophisticated experiments, including molecular analyses in cell cultures and comprehensive wound healing assays in diabetic mouse models, treatment with ADSC-Exos could revitalize skin cells and accelerate wound closure.

Why it Matters: Research that helps us identify better ways to care for patients at risk for diabetic amputations is needed. This is not the only research being done in improving wound care outcomes, and findings like these help providers better care for their patients.\.

The findings open new avenues for treating chronic diabetic wounds and offer a promising therapeutic strategy for diabetic wound healing. ADSC-Exos improves the function of epidermal cells, facilitating rapid and effective wound closure, which might prove to be a solution to one of the biggest challenges to diabetic wound care.

Furthermore, the study authors believe new pathways for developing advanced treatments for diabetic patients can be discovered, potentially transforming the management of diabetic wounds, and reducing the need for drastic measures like amputations.

If proved correct, this method could improve the quality of life dramatically for those with diabetes, decreasing the complications and risks associated with these often-devastating wounds.

The field of wound care is always evolving, with new research conducted and treatments tested every day. These discoveries are crucial in improving the treatment of wound care for patients and providing clinicians with more tools at their disposal to handle a higher volume and increased complexity in their cases.

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