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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment providing you with high quality pressure amounts of oxygen, which aids in the healing process of diseased or damaged tissues. The treatment is received while comfortably lying in a specially designed pressurized chamber where you will breathe 100 percent oxygen. The benefit of hyperbaric oxygen therapy results from an oxygen enriched bloodstream—not from the oxygen’s direct contact with the wound.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can provide a patient with one or more of the following:

  • Advanced wound healing
  • Increased oxygen delivery to injured tissue
  • Preservation of damaged tissue
  • Greater blood vessel formation
  • Improved infection control
  • Elimination and reduced effects of toxic substances
  • Reduction or elimination of gas bubble obstructions

    Some of the conditions for which hyperbaric therapy can be helpful include:

  • Air or gas embolism
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Gas gangrene
  • Decompression sickness
  • Wound healing
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
  • Radiation injuries
  • Skin grafts and flaps
  • Burns

What are treatments like?

The treatment occurs with the patient lying comfortably inside the spacious chamber. The patient can sleep or watch television while undergoing the therapy.

The treatment is painless, although at times the patient may experience a sensation of “fullness” in the ears. Prior to starting treatment, the hyperbaric staff will teach the patient how to relieve this pressure to avoid ear discomfort. A nurse remains with the patient during treatment and will adjust the rate of compression according to the patient’s tolerance level and coach the patient on relieving any discomfort.

The compression phase of the treatment, or the time when the patient is taken to their prescribed pressure level, usually lasts 10-15 minutes. The remainder of the treatment may last between 90 minutes to two hours.

Near the end of treatment the pressure gradually decreases to the normal level. During the decompression phase the patient may experience a “popping” sensation in the ears. This is a normal occurrence.

As with all medical treatment, hyperbaric oxygen therapy presents some risks, but these are quite rare and will be discussed with patients prior to therapy.

The number of treatments will be based on the patient’s needs. Some emergency cases require a few treatments, while other wound healing situations may require 20-40 treatments where the healing effect is gradual. Hyperbaric treatment is generally administered once a day, five days a week.