New products focus on multimodal healing with absorption, antibacterial, and regenerative properties.
Wound treatment needs to work smarter, not harder, according to new research.
Successful wound treatment currently costs more than $50 billion per year to attain in the United States alone.1 Medicare alone spends between $28 billion and $97 billion per year on managing acute and chronic wounds, with the surgical care of wounds in the elderly, diabetics, and obese patients making up the largest share of this cost.2
While the cost of wound care supplies and dressings may seem prohibitive to proactive management of complex wounds, the rising global market for wound care supplies around the world paints a different picture. Providing surgical intervention to promote healing, treating infections, and dealing with long-term complications like scarring or nerve damage can make the long-term costs of wound care far outweigh the initial cost of more effective treatment.
Wound care has traditionally fallen under the umbrella of nursing care, but studies show that an interdisciplinary approach that involves specialties like physical therapy may be most beneficial.
One study, published in March 2022 in the International Wound Journal, summarized data on a number of emerging wound care strategies ranging from stem cell therapy to smart dressing materials and skin substitutes.1
The basics of wound care focus on dressings, and in recent years, the choices of wound care products have increased significantly, but with little guidance on the best uses or standard protocols for these dressings.
In an effort to clear up the confusion on newer wound dressing options, the authors of the March 2022 study highlighted the results of clinical trials for a number of wound treatment strategies.
The transplantation of skin or stem cells is one strategy for helping to regenerate tissue over healing wounds, the study notes. This treatment is typically reserved for larger wounds or burns.
There are several ways skin and stem cells can be transplanted.
Dressings are another treatment strategy. These involve some type of physical barrier to cover the wound in order to protect it from further damage and infection, and accelerate healing. There are many varieties of dressings for many types of wounds, but very little standardization.
Dressings are split into three basic categories:
Nanomaterials and smart dressings are another emerging field in wound care. These materials usually include things like zinc, copper, and silver to provide management of bleeding, infection, and new cell growth. Some popular options that fall into these categories include dressing made with grapheme, and instruments that provide therapy specific to the wound surface. Negative pressure wound therapy is the common treatment of this type, and promotes healing by removing exudate to reduce swelling and speed up the closing of wound edges. This therapy is also helpful in promoting increased blood flow and new tissue formation.
Other instrumental or targeted “smart” therapies can include things like:
Future treatments may combine several of these methods and materials, with the study specifically noting a newer cost-effective product made of a scaffolded graphene-based nanoparticle material called BioHastaflex.
Despite all of these options, the report notes that adequate wound care is still considered an unmet clinical need. The complex nature of wound healing leaves a lot of room for the development of effective treatments, the authors conclude, with the multi-billion nature of the wound care industry serving as an enticing motivator.