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Team Sky lead the way in treating road rash, thanks to pioneering medical partner Systagenix
There couldn't be a better time to talk about what Team Sky's Dr Richard Freeman calls "wound management,“ writes Nick Rearden during the 2012 Tour de France.
Indeed, according to Dr Richard Freeman, 2012 has already been an unfortunate vintage year for the team and the kind of classic injuries that cyclists earn when they slide fast across tarmac with nothing on their hips, elbows and shoulders but a Lycra-based layer. "Road rash" is what every cyclist calls the painful and distinctive injuries that result, but Dr Freeman thinks that the special wound dressings made by Team Sky supplier Systagenix are providing an advantage for the team when they do arise, helping road rash to heal faster and getting the team riders back in action and performing comfortably, sooner.
"The ADAPTIC TOUCH® dressing made by Systagenix has been one that we have used an awful lot," said Dr Freeman. "It is a non-adhering specialised dressing that has a soothing effect. We started using it in Majorca and we’ve got through a lot since then, as we seem to have had a lot of crashes so far this year."
"No matter how bad the wounds are these dressings have coped remarkably well," he went on. "Patient confidentiality prevents me from giving details on specific riders, but I can say that the riders who have used them have found them much more comfortable than other dressings they have used in the past. The other main benefit is that they don’t need to be changed as often."
In fact, other teams have been showing an interest in the dressings, initially because of the novel appearance without the traditional heavy webbing but later for better reasons as word quickly spread that they really do help wounds heal faster.
"I think we’ve moved things on a great deal thanks to the partnership with Systagenix,"
"They’ve got an awful lot of hospital research behind them and we’re looking at using some of their other products as well.”
To get technical, Dr Freeman explained that injured Team Sky riders are treated with "two-phase wound management, from Systagenix' Let’s Comfort® range – one of the four categories of their Let’s Heal® approach to healing." The riders have ADAPTIC TOUCH® dressings applied to the wound initially. The soft-tack silicone coating means that the dressing can be applied easily and, more importantly, removed without damaging the wound. The mesh design also helps minimise damage to the wound during removal as fluid is able to pass through to the secondary dressing, reducing the chances of what Dr Freeman and the medics alarmingly call "maceration."
Finally, the Systagenix TIELLE® Lite dressings complete the healing process. "The TIELLE® dressing has been one of the mainstays for us this season," said Dr Freeman. "It only needs to stay on for three days and during that time it draws the fluid out of a wound, making the healing process much quicker. Combining that with the ADAPTIC TOUCH® dressings speeds up the whole healing process. There are three types of TIELLE® dressing. We use the TIELLE® Lite as that suits the type of road rash wounds cyclists tend to get. It’s almost as if it had been designed for cyclists in terms of its ease of use and effectiveness.“
Needless to say, Dr Richard Freeman and the other team doctors, as well as the riders themselves, will be hoping that's the end of their injuries for this Tour de France but it's reassuring for everyone to know that even in the unthinkable field of sports injuries there are marginal performance gains to be made.