Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
By Angela Blakely, Staff Writer

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a pain-free routine where a patient enters a chamber with high air pressure which results in an increase in oxygen flow to the tissues in the body. It is based on the importance of oxygen in the body, specifically body tissue, in order for a person to survive. Witness the fact that a human being can survive without nourishment for weeks, while he or she can’t survive without oxygen. Healing requires oxygen in the tissues where illnesses and injuries exist. Used in the correct dosage, it can save lives, it can wake a person from a coma, and it can even mean the difference between paralysis and movement.

There are many conditions that can utilize HBOT. Healing wounds is one of them. Burn victims can benefit from this treatment with its effect on the body tissue. It works by increasing oxygen production, speeding up the removal of dead tissue, and producing new blood vessels.  HBOT is also useful in treating infections that antibiotics can’t cure. Gangrene is an example of an infection that can be treated with HBOT.  HBOT can also prevent amputation in extreme cases by pumping oxygen to the extremity. HBOT has also been used to treat sports injuries.

HBOT has other functions as well. It can be utilized as a diagnostic test to examine the extent of damage as well as serving as an adjunct to physical therapy. It can help stroke victims, traumatic brain injury victims, MS patients, Alzheimer’s patients and many other diseases that affect the brain.

There are currently 13 conditions that are approved by the FDA for treatment and are reimbursed by insurance: air or gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, crash injury, decompression sickness, diabetic foot ulcers, wounds, soft tissue infections, osteomyelitis, radiation tissue damage, severe anemia, skin grafts, thermal burns and gangrene. There is strong scientific evidence that HBOT can help treat many other diseases like heart conditions, MS and arthritis, but they are not FDA approved yet for insurance purposes and are known as “off-label” use. However, they are available. That is why HBOT is often considered an alternative treatment. It is offered on an outpatient basis.

HBOT patients experience no pain in their treatment as it is a non-invasive procedure with few side effects. They enter either a monoplace which is a cylindrical chamber or they use a multi-person chamber which can house up to 36 adults and often has a TV and stereo in it. HBOT patients can resume activity upon completion of the therapy. There is no recovery time. 

How does it work? It works basically upon the premise that cells need more oxygen to heal. The high pressure in the cylinders results in an increase in oxygen that saturates the bloodstream in areas that lack oxygen and are not producing cells fast enough.

So if you have a neurological or physical condition that has not responded to previous medical treatment, ask your doctor about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.


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