Trauma and Wound Healing
Improving Wound Healing and Trauma Recovery
The body undergoes profound physiological responses to injury and physical trauma. Injuries may be accidental or intentional (as with surgery), but all wound healing is complex with multiple stages. Much ongoing research is actively seeking improved methods to treat wounds.
Wound treatment always involves promoting the closing of the injury, as well as preventing infection. Also, maintaining good nutrition is critical during the wound healing process because several nutrients are critical to this process.
Many natural integrative interventions such as whey protein, omega-3 fatty acids, trace elements, and vitamins may be useful in supporting successful wound healing.
What Factors Can Compromise Wound Healing?
- Foreign bodies in the wound
- Advanced age
- Venous insufficiency
- Certain medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Alcohol and smoking
- Poor nutrition
How are Wounds and Trauma Conventionally Treated?
- Debridement ‒ the removal of foreign debris and/or dead tissue from the wound
- Infection control, including oral and/or topical antibiotics
- Wound closure with staples, sutures, or adhesives
- Dressings to keep the wound in a moist environment ideal for healing
- Mechanical offloading to remove pressure from the wound (eg, orthotics, padding)
- Parenteral or enteral nutrition
What Emerging Strategies May Improve Wound Healing?
- Wound biomarkers and diagnostics
- Novel antimicrobial therapies, including bacteriophages (viruses that attack bacteria), antimicrobial peptides, and wound dressings containing chitosan
- Other interventions, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, negative-pressure wound therapy, cryopreserved placental membrane, and ultrasound or electrical stimulation to stimulate cells
What Dietary and Lifestyle Changes Can Improve Trauma and Wound Healing?
- Eating enough calories to support healing
- Caloric needs during wound healing are estimated to be 30–35 kcal/kg of body weight, or up to 40 kcal/kg for an underweight patient.
- Eating enough protein to meet the demand for amino acids required for cell growth and tissue repair
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends protein intake of 1.25 to 1.5 g/kg of body weight per day for patients with healing wounds.
- Proper hydration
- Exercise, to the level appropriate to the patient’s physical condition
- Quitting smoking
What Natural Interventions May Be Beneficial for Trauma and Wound Healing?
- Amino acids. Amino acids, such as glutamine and arginine, are important for promoting wound healing.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may promote wound healing and reduce infection throughout the healing process.
- Copper, selenium, and zinc. These trace elements are cofactors of enzymes essential to the wound-healing process.
- Vitamin A. Topical vitamin A can stimulate growth of cells involved in tissue and skin repair.
- Vitamin C. Low vitamin C levels are associated with delayed wound healing. Vitamin C can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and is a cofactor for collagen synthesis.
- Diosmin and hesperidin. Diosmin and hesperidin are citrus flavonoids that have been studied for their effects on venous insufficiency, including healing venous ulcers.
- Many plants and their extracts, including aloe vera,calendula, arnica, and pycnogenol can be beneficial in wound healing.