Wound & Edema: Hyperbaric Medicine

 

Fort HealthCare’s Wound & Edema Center provides specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds, which are defined as sores or wounds that have not significantly improved from conventional treatments. Associated with inadequate circulation, poorly functioning veins, and immobility, non-healing wounds lead to lower quality of life and may lead to amputations. When wounds persist, a specialized approach is required for healing. Typically, a wound that does not respond to normal medical care within 30 days is considered a problem or chronic wound.

hyperbaric tech talking to patient in chamberThe Wound & Edema Center uses an interdisciplinary model of care, including the adjunctive use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)has been proven effective in reducing swelling, fighting infection, and building new blood vessels, ultimately producing healthy tissue.

HBOT is a treatment in which you breathe 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The treatment quickly delivers high concentrations of oxygen to the bloodstream, assists in the healing process of wounds and is effective in fighting certain types of infections.

It also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels and improves circulation. A treatment profile is administered daily and the number of treatments you receive will depend on your diagnosis.

 


Preparing for your treatments

After an initial consultation and examination at the center, you will receive complete instructions regarding your treatment.

In the case of prescribed hyperbaric medicine: for safety reasons there are certain items not allowed inside the chambers. Please do not wear or bring the following into the chamber during your treatment:

  • Make-up, nail polish, perfume, aftershave
  • Flammable materials
  • Wigs/hairpieces, hairspray and hair oils
  • Hearing aids
  • Alcohol or petroleum based products
  • Metallic items (such as jewelry, watches, and coins)
  • Ask your hyperbaric chamber technician about contact lens use

Note: You should also refrain from smoking or the use of any tobacco products during the entire course of therapy. Tobacco use will prolong or even prevent healing of a wound site due to its effect on the blood vessels in your body. Before starting your treatment session, you will change into a 100% cotton garment provided by the Wound & Edema Center. For safety reasons, no other clothing may be worn inside the chamber.

Is hyperbaric medicine safe, and how does it work?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a safe and evidence-based treatment proven to speed the healing process in certain types of wounds. In fact, many patients find it relaxing! The clear chambers are equipped with televisions and comfortable bedding, so patients are free watch their favorite television shows or a movie, or even sleep. During the treatments, the patient breathes 100% oxygen inside a pressurized chamber, quickly increasing the concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream, where it is delivered to a patient's wound site for faster healing. Essentially, HBOT therapy helps heal the wound from the inside out. A typical course of treatment involves the patient spending about 90 minutes a day in the chamber five days per week over a four-to-six-week period.

This therapy can help reduce swelling, fight infection, and build new blood vessels, ultimately producing healthy tissue. It is also effective in fighting certain types of infections, improving circulation, in stimulating growth of new blood vessels, and in treating crush injuries, osteomyelitis, compromised skin grafts and flaps, brown recluse spider bites, and diabetic wounds of the legs and feet.

Medicare and most healthcare plans reimburse for hyperbaric oxygen therapy for 'currently accepted indications.' Our courteous and professional staff is available to assist you with all of your personal insurance issues.

What to expect during hyperbaric medicine treatment

Once you are comfortably positioned inside the chamber, the pressure will gradually increase and the temperature will temporarily rise. When the desired pressure is achieved, the temperature will be adjusted to your comfort. You may experience fullness in your ears as a result of the increased pressure. The technician will instruct you in ways to help clear the pressure and relieve any discomfort. Most treatment sessions in the chamber last approximately one-and-a-half hours. When the treatment is completed, the chamber is restored to normal pressure and the interior of the chamber will become cooler.

The possibility of side effects of hyperbaric medicine

You may experience temporary vision changes which should return to normal within a few weeks after your therapy is completed. Our physicians recommend that you not change the prescription of your eyewear during the course of your therapy. Some patients experience fatigue during treatment. This is completely normal.

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