It’s important to address the emotions that accompany most wound care regimens.
In-depth and effective wound care isn’t just about healing the flesh. There are also profound emotional aspects to the recovery process. Many injuries don’t just result in painful ulcers or open wounds; they change a person’s perspective on life and themselves. For instance, 22 percent of burn victims experience PTSD-like symptoms, according to a 2011 study from the Neuroscience Research Center. If you or your caregivers ignore the emotional trauma that accompanies many injuries or chronic wound scenarios, then you’re missing half the problem. Here are just a few things to keep in mind as you consider the importance of emotional recuperation:
1. The power of disgust
As New York University pointed out, disgust is a most important and powerful emotion. It not only has ramifications in the decisions we make (morally, politically, etc.), but also influences our behaviors and overall willingness. To determine a person’s reactions to so-called disgust emotions, and what kinds of actions people are comfortable with undertaking, researchers created the Haidt Disgust Sensitivity Questionnaire in 1994.
More recently, a group of scientists applied the questionnaire to predict self-management in wound care as part of a 2011 study in the Journal of Wound Care. People with a higher disgust sensitivity were actually less likely to engage in proper self-management techniques, and they’d avoid steps like changing dressings or cleaning wounds. Female participants had higher sensitivity than men, and subjects’ sensitivity levels would drop if they had a nurse to assist. The study also noted that the depth and severity of a wound had a noticeable impact on a patient’s management abilities. More research needs to be conducted, but scientists concluded by explaining the important of pre-screening for a patient’s disgust sensitivity, and its effect on more positive wound healing outcomes.
2. The tools of positivity
As Nursing Times explained, psychological reassurance for wound care patients isn’t readily addressed in medical journals and literature. The research that is available, meanwhile, paints a rather stark picture: 12 percent of people who recover from a serious injury are dealing with emotional problems more than a year later. The problem is that most patients aren’t given the basic tools to help address issues like depression or disgust. But as Nursing times explained, there are a few items that patients will need to properly address these issues:
Support systems: People need friends and family not only to rely on during recovery, but also to share thoughts and feelings.
Emotional outlets: Sometimes called coping mechanisms, these could be hobbies or other interests that let people engage with others and focus on something beyond their wounds.
New self-image: If the wound is especially pronounced, or results in amputation, patients can often develop issues with an altered body image. When this occurs, patients need to be comforted and given a chance to work through these changes.
While emotional fallout in patients typically lands on families, caregivers are just as important in this process. Be it doctors or nurses, these healers have to assist their patients in remaining positive. That means engaging in conversations or maybe random acts of kindness, but it also involves setting a positive example through actions and words.
Advanced Tissue is a leading provider of specialized wound care products.