Originally used to treat decompression sickness (also known as "the bends") for scuba divers, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is now widely used in the treatment of chronic wounds. This highly effective treatment uses pressurized oxygen to increase oxygen levels in the patient's bloodstream, which helps promote wound healing and the growth of healthy tissue.
Conditions that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used for include:
- Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities (such as foot ulcers)
- Compromised skin grafts and flaps
- Delayed radiation injuries
- Necrotizing soft tissue infections
- Bone Infections
- Crush injuries
- Other select problem wounds
What patients will experience
Patients receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy while lying down in a clear acrylic chamber filled with 100 percent oxygen. Each treatment typically lasts two hours, during which the patient may choose to sleep or watch television or DVDs. The chamber also has a built-in device that enables the patient to communicate with Wound Center staff. Some patients may experience inner ear pressure, much like many people do when traveling by air. Treatment plans generally run 20 to 60 days, and patients receive one treatment per day, five days per week.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy requires a doctor's referral. Many insurance plans cover this treatment.