Psychological Stress and Wound Healing in Humans

What We Know

Valentina S. Lucas, RN, MS, ANP-BC


Wounds. 2011;22(4):76-83. 

In This Article

Digital Photography

The most simple and straightforward method of wound assessment is the use of digital photography. In a study of the effectiveness of a 3-month exercise intervention program on wound healing, neuroendocrine function, and perceived life stress, Emery et al[32] used digital photography to assess wound healing. The wound healing outcome measure was the ratio between the areas of a standardized black dot applied next to the wound. Photos were taken on a schedule and wound healing was documented and considered positive as the size of the wound decreased in relation to the applied dot. A sample of 28 healthy men and women were randomized to either an exercise intervention group or a control group. The wounds of individuals who participated in regular exercise healed significantly faster (mean = 29.2, SE 9.0 days). All wounds for both groups healed by week 7. Interestingly, this study found that exercise improved healing yet did very little to improve self-reported stress on the PSS. Salivary cortisol was elevated in the exercise group but did not change in the nonexercise group. The authors proposed that the increased responsiveness of cortisol to stress following exercise suggests that exercise contributes to enhanced neuroendocrine responsiveness.[32]


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