Low level laser therapy for healing acute and chronic wounds – the extendicare experience

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The purpose of the study is to assess the effectiveness of low level laser therapy for wound healing when combined with the Extendicare Wound Prevention and Management Program. Sixteen residents at a Canadian Extendicare nursing home had a total of 27 sites treated consisting of 23 open wounds and 4 ‘at risk’ areas. Of the 23 open wounds, two wounds in between toes were not able to be ‘traced’ and deemed ‘immeasurable’ wounds, resulting in 21 open, measured wounds. The four ‘at risk’ (closed) areas were treated preventatively. Pressure, venous insufficiency and diabetic wounds were included. The majority (12/21) or 57·1%, of the wounds were chronic (≥3 months duration) and 42·9% were acute (<3 months duration). The primary outcome measures included the PUSH Tool score, EZ Graph™ tracings and photographs. Secondary outcome measures were employed to better understand potential barriers to successful integration into clinical practice. Feedback on the effectiveness of low level laser therapy, the education program and determinations of hands-on relevance was sought from staff. At the end of the 9-week trial, the majority (61·9%) of the 21 wounds achieved significant improvement (≥50% wound closure). Nine (42·8%) had 100% closure. Some improvement was seen in 14·3% and 23·8% of wounds demonstrated no change. Chronic and acute wounds had similar improvement. None of the wounds in this debilitated, frail population deteriorated during the study and no negative consequences of treatment were encountered. Without staff support, even if new technology has positive clinical outcomes, success would be limited. Staff rated low level laser, easy to learn and use, effective for the majority of their residents worth the additional time. Staff requested a continuation of low level laser even after study completion.

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