Healing Wounds with Hyperbaric Therapy
Healing Wounds with Hyperbaric TherapyH
ave you ever had a wound that just would not heal correctly? Living with a chronic wound can make daily activities a constant battle. Suffering long term without improvement may cause serious infection and the loss of a limb. If you or a loved one has a wound that has not healed 50% in four weeks, you may have a non-healing wound and may benefit from the specialty of wound healing and hyperbaric medicine.
Some non-healing wounds are pressure ulcers, diabetic ulcers, non-healing surgical wounds and many other difficult to heal wounds. Initially, a team approach is utilized to help address the underlying reason the wound is not healing. Key factors such as nutrition, blood flow, treating infections, diabetes control and many others are addressed. Advanced technologies such as wound vacs, compression therapy, skin substitutes, advanced wound care dressings, several diagnostic technologies, and many other time-proven methods can be used to help you heal faster, allowing you to get back to your daily activities sooner.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is successfully being used today to heal chronic wounds. While the term might sound mysterious, it can be broken down to “hyper” meaning increased and “baric” relating to pressure. Therefore, hyperbaric oxygen therapy refers to the treatment of the entire body with 100% oxygen under increased pressure.
One of the key factors for healing wounds is oxygen, normally carried in our red blood cells. As we age and with many different diseases, the blood flow to our extremities can be significantly reduced. The increased pressure and oxygen with hyperbaric treatment, dissolves the oxygen into the blood plasma as well as in all body cells and tissues, allowing oxygen to better reach the area to be healed. In a sense, hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps your body work to its maximum capacity for healing.
Many people think hyperbaric medicine is a new medical therapy, however it’s use dates back to the 1600’s. Similar to the treatment of decompression sickness with scuba divers, the atmospheric pressure is doubled and the chamber is pressured with 100% oxygen, rather than the 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen that is normally breathed. This allows up to 10 times more oxygen to be retained by the body, which is high enough to sustain life with no blood at. The oxygen-rich blood bathes damaged tissue, stimulating the release of chemicals that promote healing, including the formation of new blood vessels, experts say.
Today there are thirteen conditions recognized for FDA approved hyperbaric oxygen treatment: air or gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, crush injury, decompression sickness, arterial insufficiencies, severe anemia, intracranial abscesses, necrotizing (dying) soft tissue infections, osteomyelitis or chronic bone infections, delayed radiation injury, compromised skin grafts and flaps, and acute thermal burn injury.
In one instance, Ben was referred for problems with his jaw and mouth deteriorating due to high dose radiation treatment for cancer in his past. He broke a molar and had been working with his dentist and oral surgeon to fix the problem. He was referred to hyperbaric treatments to help rejuvenate the damaged cells from the radiation proper before and after oral surgery. Ben completed 20 treatments prior and 10 treatments after surgery and had a full recovery.
Wound healing and hyperbaric medicine is a growing specialty in healthcare. At Tri-State Memorial Hospital, we offer wound healing specialist services for both inpatient and outpatient needs. Our highly trained staff is at the ready, and consults with patients regarding wound care and hyperbaric needs in the emergency room, hospital and outpatient clinic daily.