Non-healing wounds, or chronic wounds, affect an estimated 6.5 million Americans each year. Non-healing wounds — defined as those which don’t heal for about three months — are more prevalent in people suffering from such diseases as diabetes and obesity. Chronic wounds include various ulcers that develop on the leg and foot, as well as pressure ulcers, or bedsores.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can help repair wounds and improve the healing process by boosting blood flow. The treatment is particularly effective in treating diabetes-related foot ulcers.
How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?
The air that we breathe is 21% oxygen. With HBOT, patients are placed in a sealed chamber, where they breathe 100% oxygen under pressure. The pure oxygen saturates blood cells and blood plasma, which in turn increases oxygen supply to the tissues—including the wound being treated.
HBOT can reduce the time it takes for a wound to heal by:
- Promoting collagen deposition, enhancing epithelial cell migration, and decreasing local tissue edema
- Killing anaerobic bacteria in tissue and bones
- Preventing additional bioburden by increasing leukocyte production and activity
- Enhancing angiogenesis (development of new blood vessels), which brings more blood and healing factors to the wound. Keep in mind that although angiogenesis can be beneficial for wounds with insufficient perfusion, HBOT is not an alternative to revascularization
The average treatment time is 110 minutes in the HBOT chamber: about 10 minutes for a patient to reach the appropriate pressure, 90 minutes at the pressure, and 10 minutes to return the patient to normal pressure.
HBOT can make a difference in wound healing and, in turn, significantly a patient’s quality of life.
Have you or anyone you know used hyperbaric oxygen therapy? What were the results? Please reply using the comments below.