Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment option for wound care in which a patient breathes in 100% oxygen, nearly five times the concentration of the air we breathe every day. This is accomplished by a session in a hyperbaric chamber, which allows a hyperbaric medicine specialist to control the level of oxygen pumped inside.
This environment promotes the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and the repair of skin and tissue, which may be necessary in treating chronic wounds – those that just don't heal. Hyperbaric medicine is also used to accelerate recovery in the treatment of other non-wound related problems, such as delayed radiation injuries and infection.
Catholic Health is proud to be home to a team of physicians that are the first of their kind in Western New York, board certified in both wound care and hyperbaric medicine. This is what sets us apart – a full-time commitment to healing and having the tools and technology to offer the best practice options to our patients.
When Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Used?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is often prescribed by the team of specialists within our Catholic Health Advanced Wound Healing Centers. Having a higher oxygen content in your bloodstream assists with the healing process for a number of conditions, including:
- diabetic wounds
- crush injury and suturing of severed limbs
- peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- skin grafting
- chronic refractory osteomyelitis
- long-term effects of radiation
A patient's role in receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be compared to being prescribed medication. Treatment is most effective when it follows the recommendations of a hyperbaric specialist, in terms of both timing and frequency of sessions in the hyperbaric chamber.
What Does a Hyperbaric Chamber Feel Like?
Hyberbaric oxygen therapy is completely painless and non-invasive. Patients are kept entirely conscious and self-aware during the session, required simply to lay in the chamber and breathe in pure oxygen for prolonged periods of time. Some people are even able to fall asleep while inside of the hyperbaric chamber! The only side effect that wound patients may experience is a pressure change in their ears – similar to being on an airplane.