The Challenge

When was the last time you said "OUCH!"?

the-challenge1Most of us don't think anything of small, everyday injuries – that's because these injuries or wounds usually heal without any problems. However, many wounds don't heal properly. Sometimes it's the type of wound. Wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers, leg ulcers from chronic venous or artery disease, bedsores, traumatic injuries and even surgical wounds may not heal. The problems are a lack of knowledge about how to diagnose & treat wounds and lack of access (funding) to proper therapies, medical technologies and trained wound-care professionals. The result is millions of untreated and mistreated patients each year.

How big is the wound problem? It is a silent epidemic.

In developed countries, 1-2% of the population will experience a chronic wound during their lifetime and in the U.S. chronic wounds affect 6.5 million patients. 7 million people in the U.S. are affected by venous leg ulcers and the rate of recurrence for venous ulcers is almost 70%

And that is just chronic wounds...

Total Number of Wounds in the World


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Acute Wounds

  • 300+ million
  • Surgical, lacerations, skin grafts, cosmetic


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Chronic Wounds

  • 20 million
  • Leg ulcers, diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers



Traumatic Wounds

  • 100 million
  • Burns, trauma


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Total Wounds

  • 400+ million

It really is a world wound epidemic. The World Health Organization and United Nations issued a warning statement on the world’s health in September 2011. In this statement they named Non-Communicable Diseases including Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease, the two main causes of non-healing wounds, as The Major Health Threat Globally. The last time such a statement was issued was for the AIDS epidemic.

Wound care is expensive: In the U.S., wound care is a $22 billion problem.

Diabetes and its complications have a significant economic impact on individuals, families, health systems and countries. In the U.S., for example, diabetes-related amputations cost approximately $3 billion per year and another $9 billion is spent on diabetic foot ulcer treatment.

The cost for one episode of leg ulcer care is estimated to exceed $40,000

Leg UlcerIt can cost $70,000 to heal 1 severe bedsore.

It isn’t just the financial costs:

  • 60,000 people die from bedsore-related problems in the U.S. each year.
  • Persons with leg ulcers account for 2 million lost work days per year
  • The relative 5-year mortality (death) rate after limb amputation is 68%, which is higher than the relative 5-year mortality rate for Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer and Colon Cancer. That means you have a better chance of living 5 years if you have breast cancer than if you are diabetic with an amputation for a diabetic foot ulcer!

Most people who have a wound assume their health care provider will know how to best heal their wound; unfortunately that is not true in many cases. Health care professionals receive minimal training and education in wound care during their formal education process, so they often rely on "learning on the job". This leads to less than adequate care and poor use of the research evidence we have for how to best heal wounds. In developing countries this lack of knowledge is more severe.