Veteran, Husband, Father and Wound Treatment Center Patient
“The total contact cast saved my foot. I would recommend the Wound Center to anybody.”
Innovative Cast Heals Painful Foot Ulcer
Since developing diabetes many years ago, Glenn Stewart has been vigilant about keeping his feet healthy. “Every night my wife would check my feet,” he said. “About a year and a half ago, my feet looked fine when we went to bed one night but the next morning, I woke up with huge blisters on both heels. The one on the right healed beautifully but the one on the left foot just took off. It became infected; it was raw to the bone. I even had to have a skin graft.”
Glenn, who retired from the U.S. Navy and then spent another 18 years as a prison guard for the Michigan Department of Corrections, was used to spending a lot of time on his feet. But this heel sore sidelined him for more than a year.
“I stopped doing a lot of things,” he said. “I couldn’t walk well and didn’t go out much. Worst of all, I couldn't ride my Harley."
The pain was unrelenting and excruciating.
“It hurt to walk or even stand. There was constant pain and it was very frustrating,” Glenn said. “I woke up almost every night with sharp, shooting pain in my heel. I told the doctor at one point to just take the foot.”
Thankfully, Glenn and his wife, Linda, were referred to the Wound Treatment Center at MidMichigan Medical Center–Gratiot. Under the medical direction of General Surgeon Sr. Mary Rebecca Koterba, M.D., the Wound Treatment Center provides specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds.
Wound treatment can help speed the healing process to relieve pain, reduce opportunities for infection and improve quality of life. Throughout the treatment period, which can range from a few days to several weeks, specialists work closely with the patient’s primary care provider or specialist to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments to the therapy plan.
The staff at the Center used an innovative treatment called a total contact cast to heal Glenn’s diabetic foot ulcer. The cast is used to off-load foot wounds by minimizing pressure and friction at the wound site. The cast is in total contact with the foot and lower leg to redistribute weight away from the wound.
“We went there in January. At first, they tried different medications and then Dr. Koterba told me about the cast and asked if I wanted to try it,” Glenn said. “Ten weeks later, the wound was healed and so far there is no sign of reoccurrence.”
Diana Pray, clinical coordinator at the Wound Treatment Center, explained that the fiberglass cast they used is similar to a bone cast but much more light weight. Once a week, the cast was removed and the wound examined, cleaned, debrided, measured and photographed.
“We then reapplied medication to speed healing and re-cast the foot,” Diana said. A removable boot was placed over the cast.
Glenn said the cast made moving and walking easier and less painful. “It transferred my weight to front of the foot and took the pressure off the heel,” he said.
Diana added that relieving the pressure on the wound was crucial for healing.
“Glenn was the third patient to be treated with the cast and at every single visit he showed improvement,” she said. “His wound healed within a few weeks compared to the months he had spent in pain. It was really exciting to see him recover so quickly and see him happy.”
Glenn is deeply grateful for the care he received at the Wound Treatment Center.
“The cast system worked out beautifully for me – it saved my foot,” he said. “The people at the Center are really nice and Dr. Koterba is a sweetheart. I would recommend the Wound Center to anybody.”
The Wound Treatment Center provides specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds. The Center features physicians and other clinical experts with advanced training and expertise in wound management as well as state-of-the-art technology, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Learn more at www.midmichigan.org/woundcenter, or call (989) 466-7021 for an appointment.