Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that enhances the body’s natural healing processes by providing the body with extra oxygen.
Logan Regional Hospital bought two hyperbaric chambers in 2012 and now has a total of three.
The patient will lie inside a hyperbaric chamber for 90-120 minutes during each treatment. The chamber is pressurized with 100 percent oxygen to the equivalent of diving 33 to 45 feet below sea level. This increase in pressure allows more oxygen to be dissolved into the plasma.
“We increase the atmospheric pressure of the chamber two or three times greater than what is normal,” said Susie Frye, a Certified Hyperbaric Technologist and Safety Director at Logan Regional Hospital. “The oxygen that is being carried on the red blood cells also travels through the plasma of the blood.”
Frye said over time the increase of oxygen stimulates angiogenesis, which is new blood vessel formation in the tissues.
“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can increase circulation and oxygenation, allowing the oxygen to built and repair damaged blood vessels, as well as triggering collagen growth, which leads to healing.”
Cynthia Carman, manager of the hyperbaric clinic at Logan Regional emphasizes it is a wound clinic first. She said she and her staff operate “under very strict safety regulations” because of the high oxygen levels associated with using hyperbaric chambers. Anything that could ignite a fire or act as fuel is banned from the treatment room.
Other common uses of hyperbaric therapy include treating diabetic foot ulcers, where bone, muscle or tendon may be exposed. Treatments can also help treat osteomyelitis, certain infections, failing grafts or flaps, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness (bends) thermal burns and more.
Carman said that patients should check with their doctor if they think hyperbaric treatments might be helpful.