Use ‘Play-Doh’ wounds to illustrate proper care

Do you think your wound care patients would gladly sit still while 10 or more of your staff practiced wound care assessment on them? Probably not. While hands-on experience in wound care might be ideal for teaching, you can recreate the experience in the classroom by using artificial wounds, says Beth Hawkins-Bradley, RN, MN, CETN, an enterostomal therapy nurse and consultant with ET on Call, a wound, ostomy, and continence care business in Blythewood, SC.

Hawkins-Bradley says you can save money spent on wound models, some of which cost as much as $300, by making your own model wounds out of homemade dough and glue. Hawkins-Bradley says she often teaches nurses about various types of wounds by accompanying them on visits to home care patients. "Mostly, I think it’s important for them to get detailed, hands-on experience doing wound assessment," she says.

But when she’s asked to teach nurses in a classroom setting, she pulls out her homemade wound models. "I have a recipe for homemade Play-Doh that I used to make with the kids. I mix it with Elmer’s glue, and I can make a wound with tunnels and varying depths," Hawkins-Bradley says.

Another benefit of homemade wounds is that you can make the type of wounds you want your staff to learn about.

Her model wounds are made realistic with food coloring, which she uses to create the flesh color of healthy tissue, bright reds for clean wound bases, and darker colors to represent dead tissue. The nurses measure the tunnels and depths of the model wounds to learn how to assess a patient’s wound objectively, Hawkins-Bradley says.

Recipe for a Wound

Here’s the recipe for model wounds, per Beth Hawkins-Bradley, RN, MN, CETN, an enterostomal therapy nurse and consultant with ET on Call in Blythewood, SC:

"Play-Doh" Wound

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup salt

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 Tbsp cooking oil

1 cup minus 2 Tbsp water

Directions: Mix ingredients in saucepan; stir over medium heat until a ball is formed. Remove from heat and turn out onto wax paper. Knead in 2 tablespoons white glue. Divide dough and knead in desired food colors. Shape "wound" with surrounding skin; form tunnels and undermined areas, and then fill in with wax paper until wound dries. Place on paper plate and dry in oven with light on.