FORT SILL, Okla. (Jan. 21, 2016) -- Imagine having a wound on your body that would not heal for more than half your life. Three-year-old Payton Hanson has dealt with just that scenario, but thanks to the treatment received at Reynolds Army Community Hospital, he is on the road to recovery.

Payton's story began just after his first birthday in February 2014, when his parents, Alexis and Spc. Spencer Hanson, 100th Brigade Support Battalion, noticed a small wound on the top of his head.

"Payton had been playing hard that day and I figure he had bumped his head, we didn't think much of it at the time," she said.

By June, the wound showed no signs of healing so Alexis made an appointment for Payton at Reynolds Army Community Hospital.

"At first the doctors thought it was a skin condition, and we were referred to several dermatologists at The Children's Hospital at The University of Oklahoma Medical Center who tried various treatments that did not work at all," she said.

The decision was made in December to try to surgically remove the wound and surrounding tissue and then staple the incision closed. Despite having staples in place the incision reopened resulting in a 3.5-centimeter wound on Payton's head.

By this time, his doctors realized that it was not a dermatological condition that was causing his problems. After several rounds of testing and based on information that Alexis provided on her own health history, a geneticist diagnosed Payton with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in May 2015. The syndrome is a rare genetic connective tissue disorder.

There are multiple types of EDS, but the most common type affects the skin and joints. The usual symptoms of EDS are stretchy and easily bruised skin that cuts easily and can take longer to heal, and very loose joints, or hypermobility, which can lead to multiple dislocations of joints or chronic joint pain.

Payton's pediatrician at Reynolds, Dr. Jamie Laughy, was at a loss for how to treat the wounds that had been plaguing her young patient.

"Multiple procedures were performed to try to heal his scalp; however, because of his underlying genetic disorder his healing was unsuccessful. The next solution was going to be a skin graft performed by a plastic surgeon which was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. This allowed us time to treat his wound with an uncommon approach," Laughy said.

That approach came in the form of a wound vacuum.

"A wound vac is a device that covers and seals a wound in a beneficial environment to promote healing from the inside out," said Laughy.

"As far as our research could uncover, a wound vac had never been used to treat a scalp wound on an EDS patient before, and there were risks involved if we wanted to use it on Payton. Due to the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, his skin is prone to bruising and tearing, we did not know if the vac would cause further damage to his fragile skin or cause any excessive bleeding."

After further research, Laughy and Payton's parents agreed the benefits outweighed any potential risks and Payton was outfitted with a portable wound vac on Dec. 9, at Reynolds to begin two weeks of treatment.

"Since there were several unknowns with this treatment we admitted Payton into Reynolds for 14 days so we could closely monitor his progress and intervene if needed. The dressing on his wound had to be changed every three days, and when we removed the wound vac at Day 3, we could already see the improvement in the healing process," said Laughy. "The portable vac we used has a reservoir to collect excess fluid there was not a drop of blood collected in the entire 14 days."

Once the wound vac was removed Laughy and Alexis were amazed at the results.

"After the inpatient treatment the large wound had healed from 3.5 centimeters to 1 centimeter and four smaller wounds surrounding the larger one healed completely," said Laughy. "We attempted to heal the larger wound through home health dressing changes every other day, and we did get some improvement over the holidays. However, the larger wound still remained open, and after three more days on a wound vac it is now completely healed," said Laughy.

"We were confident that this next treatment would help Payton to heal completely," echoed Alexis. "Since the first round was complication free we were able to be home for this one which was great for Payton."

This is now the first time in two years that Payton is wound free. The Hansons will soon travel to Chicago to see the foremost expert on Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and are looking forward to a brighter future for Payton.