New Therapy May Save Diabetics Limbs

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics are prone to foot ulcers, and every 30 seconds someone with diabetes loses a limb. Now, there's a new way to heal those dangerous wounds.

Little Emma knows how to keep her grandfather's spirits up and he needs it.  David Newbauer has been living with diabetes for 27 years. 

"I have had problems with my eyes, and I have had problems with retaining fluids, and finally, I lost my kidney function," said David Newbauer, has diabetes.

His most recent problem -- two foot wounds that won't heal. "Basically, I have almost no feeling in my foot," he says.  Doctor Stephanie Wu says a condition called neuropathy prevents many diabetics from feeling pain.

"Patients who lost the gift of pain, they will continue walking and not realizing that they are wearing a hole at the bottom of their foot," said Dr. Stephanie Wu, podiatrist.

So Dr. Wu is using a new therapy called Vacuum Assisted Closure, or VAC on David.  "We're going to protect the skin around your wound," she tells David.  She first covers the wounds, then wraps them with a special foam, and covers them again.

A tube attaches to the foam, sucks out fluids and provides pressure almost like a vacuum. The specialized foam interacts with the wound and promotes healing.

Dr. David Armstrong says the device can work wonders. "In many cases, it is the difference between life and limb," he adds.

People who use the VAC technique have fewer amputations and heal quicker.  David hopes for similar results.   "It would be nice to be back on my own and have a little more independence," Newbauer said.

He'll have to wear the device until his wound heals, but he says it'll be worth it.  Dr.  Armstrong says the VAC device has only been used for a few years, and many centers don't even know it exists.

E-mail your questions to Anchor Paula Francis or Medical Producer Rick Andrews.


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