What To Expect During Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatment
With the exception of decompression sickness and cerebral arterial gas embolism, treatments last approximately two hours. Treatments are given 5 days per week, unless otherwise indicated. The total number of treatments ordered depends on the diagnosis and the severity of each individual case. For some acute cases, treatment times are approximately ten days, while more chronic cases may require thirty or more treatments.
Hyberbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may be administered in either an acrylic monoplace chamber or a multiplace chamber. While in the chamber you will breathe 100% oxygen while subject to increased atmospheric pressure.
The breathing of oxygen while in a pressurized environment stimulates the body mechanisms to promote healing.
There is very little sensation while undergoing HBO therapy. During pressurization, you will get a “fullness” buildup in your ears as a result of the pressure change. This feeling is similar to diving down to the bottom of a swimming pool, driving through the mountains or flying in a plane. The technician will show you how to relieve this fullness so that you can avoid discomfort during your treatment.
Once the treatment begins, you will hear a hissing sound as the chamber pressurizes. You may also notice a temporary increase in temperature during this compression. A technician will adjust the rate of compression according to your tolerance and coach you on relieving the full sensation in your ears. The compression phase of the treatment generally lasts about 10-15 minutes, depending upon how effective you are in clearing the pressure in your ears.
Once you are at the prescribed pressure in the chamber, your ear pressure sensation will go away. You should feel absolutely normal at this time. You may watch television, listen to music, sleep, or just rest during the remainder of the treatment. You can expect treatments to usually last about two (2) hours.
At the end of your treatment, the pressure will gradually decrease as the chamber ascends over a period of 10-15 minutes. During this decompression, you will experience a popping sensation in your ears as a result of the decreasing pressure. This popping is a normal adjustment of pressure inside your ears.
Generally, you experience no after-effects from HBO therapy; however, some patients report a crackling sensation in their ears between treatments. This may be relieved in the same manner as clearing your ears during compression. If the crackling should continue, please report this to the staff. Additionally, some patients report feeling light headed for a few moments following treatment, but the episode is brief, and the patients are soon able to continue with their normal daily activity. As with all medical procedures and treatments, there are some side effects that could result from exposure to hyperbaric oxygen. These are rare, but they will be discussed with you in detail before you sign your “Consent for Treatment” form.
Wound Care Management
An integral part of total wound care management may include debridement, dressing changes, and/or the use of bioengineered skin substitutes, when indicated. The attending physician may at the time of referral request these services.
Benefits of Hyperbaric Therapy
There are several benefits associated with intermittent exposure to hyperbaric doses of oxygen. Under hyperbaric conditions, tissue levels can exceed 800 mmHg. Either alone, or more commonly combined with other medical and surgical procedures, these mechanisms serve to enhance the healing process of treatable conditions. This treatment will cause the following:
An increase in the distance which oxygen diffuses from functional capillaries into hypoperfused wounds. Initially, this provides oxygen to hypoxic tissues; later, this results in angiogenesis, which enables healing in bone and skin grafts, compromised grafts, selected problem wounds, and radiation-induced injuries.
Inhibition of microbial growth, deactivation of bacterial toxins, and enhanced white blood cell function in necrotizing infections, osteomyelitis, and soft tissue infections that have not responded to conventional therapies
Early utilization of hyperbaric oxygen reduces the reperfusion injury that is the cause of much of the damage that is associated with an abrupt reduction in blood flow to tissues, most importantly in compromised flaps and grafts.
Vasoconstriction and a subsequent decrease in tissue edema resulting from crush injury and compartment syndrome. At the same time, the high oxygen content of the blood overcomes the effects of hypoxia and peripheral ischemia.
Recent research has demonstrated that hyperbaric oxygen mobilizes stem cells, which then target injured areas. This is an exciting new finding that may have long term implications in wound healing.
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