Since our last post, I thought it would be a great idea to share with you my biggest passion in the world of wound care. For ten years I have specialized in hyperbaric medicine and helped so many patients heal through this incredible adjunctive therapy.
- What is this therapy? HBOT (Hyperbaric oxygen therapy), is a type of treatment used to speed up healing of carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, stubborn wounds, and infections in which tissues are starved for oxygen.
- If you undergo this therapy, you will enter a special chamber to breathe in pure oxygen in air pressure levels 2 times higher than average. The goal is to fill the blood with enough oxygen to repair tissues and restore normal body function.
HBOT helps wound healing by bringing oxygen-rich plasma to tissue starved for oxygen. Wound injuries damage the body’s blood vessels, which release fluid that leaks into the tissues and causes swelling. This swelling deprives the damaged cells of oxygen, and tissue starts to die. HBOT reduces swelling while flooding the tissues with oxygen. The elevated pressure in the chamber increases the amount of oxygen in the blood. HBOT aims to break the cycle of swelling, oxygen starvation, and tissue death.
HBOT prevents “reperfusion injury.” That is the severe tissue damage that happens when the blood supply returns to the tissues after they have been deprived of oxygen. When blood flow is interrupted by a crush injury, for instance, a series of events inside the damaged cells leads to the release of harmful oxygen radicals. These molecules can do damage to tissues that cannot be reversed and cause the blood vessels to clamp up and stop blood flow. HBOT encourages the body’s oxygen radical scavengers to seek out the problem molecules and allows healing to continue.
What can we treat with HBOT?
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Crush injuries
- Gas gangrene (a form of gangrene in which gas collects in tissues)
- Compromised skin grafts and flaps
- Infection in a bone (osteomyelitis)
- Delayed radiation injury
- Flesh-eating disease (also called necrotizing soft tissue infection)
- Diabetic wounds that are not healing properly
Over the course of my career, I have seen so many fantastic outcomes with this therapy. I have witnessed so many incredible improvements in quality of life and mobility due to HBOT. Patients who were wheelchair bound due to a non-healing diabetic foot wound can walk again. Folks who have had radiation damage to their mouths from cancer treatment can taste food and swallow easily again. Of course, these patients must qualify and complete the prescribed course of treatment. It has truly been a privilege to assist in these patients’ healing transformations!