It's called hyperbaric oxygen therapy. At first glance, the tube-like chamber appears to be more like something you'd see in the space program.
"Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are designed to increase the amount of oxygen in a person's body," said Dr. Kay Kile of the
"It is vital for the processes that are building up and repairing an opening in the tissue," she said.
When a wound isn't getting enough oxygen, it won't heal. That's where hyperbaric oxygen treatment can help. Unlike simply blowing oxygen at a wound's surface, Kile said the chamber immerses a person in high-pressure oxygen, sending more oxygen not only into a person's blood, but also into the tissue.
Opting for the treatment is a big commitment. Kile said the process of pressurizing, staying in the environment, and then coming back up can take two to two-and-a-half hours. Patients must get the treatment five days a week for four to five weeks. That's why Kile says making it available in
A patient's time in the tube may seem a bit boring. Due to the fire risks posed by gas and pressure, a person can go in with nothing but 100-percent cotton scrubs to wear. They communicate with staff by a phone link. On the bright side, the chamber is clear, with a television in view!
Still, the treatment can have a big impact.
When you have wounds that aren't healing it can make the difference between saving the limb and amputation, Kile said.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy won't help all wounds. Kile said it primarily helps patients who have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, where there's damage to the vessels, or those who've suffered damage from radiation therapy.
Insurance coverage for the therapy will vary according to the provider.
For frequently asked questions on hyperbaric oxygen therapy, click the following link: