Health Matters: Hyperbaric Chamber Healing

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Most of us associate the use of a hyperbaric chamber with the treatment of a diver suffering from "the bends", but there are many other conditions this instrument can help to heal. In this Health Matters, we take a look at the role the hyperbaric chamber plays in a local wound care center.

After 12 treatments Donald Mustain recalls his initial trip into a hyperbaric chamber to mend a stubborn wound on his foot that refused to heal.

Donald says, "At first it's a little frightening to think you're going to get into something you can't get out of, you know, on your own, but after you've been in it once and they tell you everything that goes on, it's no big deal."

A normal session will last from one and a half to two hours and experts say the chamber works by simply enhancing the body's own natural healing process.

"We increase the pressure, and increase the amount of oxygen the patients are breathing, therefore getting much more oxygen to wound sites and therefore wounds heal much faster than they would without the treatment," says Christian Birkedal, M.D.

The hyperbaric chamber is a powerful instrument that can also help severe burns to heal, fight bone infections and reverse the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning as well as decompression sickness.

After several sessions, Donald is already seeing a dramatic improvement.

“It's coming along great as far as the doctor tells me. Healing is going on better than expected," he says.

If caught early enough, wounds like this can be treated with the hyperbaric chamber, decreasing the risk of amputation. The average amount of pressure used in hyperbaric treatments at capital regional medical center is 35 pounds, or the pressure you would feel under eighty feet of water.

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