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November is American Diabetes Month and the healthcare experts at Central Iowa Healthcare's Wound Healing Center, a member of the Healogics network, are drawing attention to the fact that every hour seven people across the country lose a foot or leg to the disease, which is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations not caused by accidents.
"Diabetic patients are confronted with multiple challenges in the healing process. Not only is their circulation diminished, but they also have an impaired ability to sense the earliest states of foot injury due to disease-associated nerve damage," said Scott Covington, MD, FACS, CHWS, Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs for Healogics, Inc., a network of academic medical centers, hospitals and professionals committed to advancing wound healing and addressing the problem of chronic wounds.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly one in three people with diabetes ages 40 and older have at least one area on their feet that lacks feeling. Those at greater risk for nerve damage include diabetics who have difficulty controlling their blood sugar, high cholesterol, weight or blood pressure.
Statistically, one in 20 diabetics will develop a wound on the legs or feet each year. The risk of amputations can be reduced by 45 to 85 percent through foot care programs that can include risk assessment, education, treatment of foot problems and referrals to specialists.
State-of-the-art equipment and leading edge therapies are also playing a role in reducing the risk of amputation. CIH's Wound Healing Center offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy, negative pressure wound therapy, bio-engineered skin substitutes, biological and biosynthetic dressings and growth factor therapies.
The experts and CIH's Wound Healing Center note the following as indications of problems diabetics may have with their legs and urge people to discuss symptoms they have with their healthcare providers:
The Wound Healing Center recommends people with diabetes manually inspect their feet each day and seek immediate attention if a lower extremity wound has increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor, or a change in color or change in amount of drainage.
For more information on the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, contact CIH's Wound Healing Center located at 55 South Central Iowa Drive (across from Marshalltown Community College) or call 641-754-8025.