On Tuesday, Gordon Hospital held an open house to showcase its two new hyperbaric chambers that use concentrated oxygen under pressure to treat wounds.
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy works by surrounding patients with 100 percent pure oxygen while the patient relaxes inside a pressurized compartment.
Medical experts say that hyperbaric therapy is proven to promote faster and more extensive healing by increasing the oxygen levels in the bloodstream. The oxygen stimulates circulation and promotes healing.
Bryanne Parker, hyperbaric oxygen technician of the program, said patients in a hyperbaric chamber breathe at a pressure equivalent to diving 33 feet under the sea.
“It’s amazing to see how well the wounds heal,” she said.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is beneficial for a wide range of diagnoses, including diabetic ulcers, bone infections, post-operative infections, skin grafts, radiation burns, arterial and venous ulcers, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression illness, air embolism, cyanide poisoning, gangrene and crush injuries and suturing of severed limbs, Parker said.
Treatment in the chamber usually averages two hours with 10 minutes for compression, 90 minutes for treatment and 10 minutes for decompression.
Dennis Kathcart, Advanced Clinical Hyperbaric, RN and certified wound specialist with Adventist Health System, helped train the staff, said patients who undergo the treatments have very positive outcomes.
“The healing rates exceed those that choose not to have the treatment. The only things that a patient may feel is a little pressure on the ear drums, almost like you are flying in a plane, and they also might feel a little warm during compression and a little cool during decompression, otherwise it is like you are just relaxing on a couch,” Kathcart said.
“The chamber has a clear top to it, so you can see out. And you can lay there and just relax, nap or watch television,” he added.
Noticeable healing for diabetics
Jonathan Carney, 58, of Resaca, who was one of the first local patients to benefit from the hyperbaric oxygen treatments agrees that being inside the chamber is relaxing and even called the treatments “restful.”
Carney was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago, and for the last year, struggled to get a wound on his foot to heal. He had treatments for about a month and saw significant changes.
“I wish that I had before and after pictures, because my foot now has soft, pink skin on it for the first time in a long time,” Carney said.
He said the only side effect was a positive one: “My wounds are healed,” he said. “I would recommend it.”
Patients who are claustrophobic can receive anti-anxiety medicines at the center.
“Some are a little concerned about the space, but those that have been in it, feel so much better after treatment that it becomes a non-issue for most of them,” Parker said.
And, she added, “The bottom line is that we want them to feel comfortable and know that we are always close at hand if they need anything.”
Gordon’ Hospital’s Center for Wound Healing, which officially opened in November 2010 and is an extension of the rehabilitation services department.
Located next to the Rehabilitation Services department on the ground floor of the hospital, the area boasts three, private exam rooms and two hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers.
Julie Harmon, Physical Therapist, certified wound specialist and clinical coordinator of the program, said the center provides a full range of care by coordinating treatment plans and support services with the wound care.
“Our patients have access to a full continuum of care that includes extensive wound assessment and treatments, procedural pain management, patient education and support services with our new center,” Harmon said.
Patients are referred to the center at Gordon Hospital, and undergo a thorough evaluation with a complete history and physical exam to identify the type of wound and what may be hindering the healing process, hospital officials stated.
For more information about the center call 706-879-5760.