Cutting-Edge Therapies Offer Healing for Chronic Wounds


About three years ago, Brad Arnold had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his ankle, followed by chemotherapy and aggressive radiation. Although the treatment successfully rid Brad of  cancer, it led to other health issues. For years, he lived with a large ankle wound.

“The wound caused me so much pain,” says Brad, 81. “I hoped it would heal naturally, but it didn’t.”

Brad went to another wound center for treatment, but his wound did not improve. After more than a year of treatment, doctors referred Brad to AGH’s Wound Healing Center.

“Our center is known for providing the most advanced wound care therapies available,” explains Sherry Gable, director of the Wound Healing Center. “We offer our patients the best of the best.”

Using Oxygen to Heal
After imaging tests, venous studies, and other evaluations, AGH’s wound care professionals recommended hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help heal Brad’s wound. This treatment involves breathing 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which allows the lungs to gather more oxygen than is otherwise possible. Oxygen-rich blood then circulates to damaged blood vessels in the wound.

“Oxygen helps the cells regenerate and allows healthy cells to grow,” explains Gable. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy produces healing from the inside out.”

Brad went to the Wound Healing Center five days a week for 12 weeks, lying in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber for 90 minutes a day. Many hyperbaric patients listen to music or watch movies during their treatment. Others use the time to catch up on sleep.

“The people at the Wound Healing Center were great. They really listen to you and make it a good experience,” recalls Brad. “I told them I liked Westerns. They always scouted out old John Wayne movies for me to watch.”

Finding Freedom
Because Brad’s wound was so severe, physicians at the Wound Healing Center supplemented hyperbaric therapy with other cutting-edge treatments. They grafted tissue derived from amniotic cells to Brad’s wound. The tissue, which is rich in growth hormones, helped excite Brad’s own tissue to heal itself. They also used negative-pressure wound therapy, also called vacuum therapy, to promote further healing.

Within just three months of starting therapy at the center, Brad’s wound was healed to the point where he could have plastic surgery to fill the hole left in his ankle by the cancer—the goal of his wound care team and last step in his ordeal.

“I feel like I’ve been freed,” he says. “I’m so grateful to be healed, and I’m happy to get back to life.”

If you have a wound that hasn’t healed within two weeks, call Allegan General Hospital's Wound Healing Center at 269-686-HEAL (269-686-4325) for a consultation.

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