What is hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy?
HBO is a medical treatment that increases the amount of oxygen in the patient’s blood, allowing oxygen to pass more easily through the plasma into the wounds to heal them. HBO chambers surround patients with 100% oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressure.
Who requires extra oxygen?
Usually, there is no benefit to increasing the level of oxygen in the body for normal, healthy individuals. People with certain medical conditions do, however, benefit from increased levels of oxygen.
How do I find out if HBO is for me?
If you have a wound that hasn’t healed in four weeks, consult the Wound Healing Center. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be an appropriate part of the treatment plan. A physician at the center will evaluate your wound and determine the best course of treatment.
Can someone stay with me during therapy?
To protect the privacy of our patients, family members may not remain with you during your treatment. A waiting room is provided for their comfort. A trained technician is always in the room during treatment and can communicate with you at any time.
What should I wear?
Since safety is our priority, we will provide you with clothing to wear during your treatment. Please do not wear any of the following items when you come to the center for HBO therapy:
What should I bring with me?
- Contact lenses
- Wigs or hairpieces
- Nail polish
- Skin lotions
- Perfume, cologne, or aftershave
- Jewelry, including watches and earrings
- Hair spray or oils
If you have a movie you would like to share with other patients, please bring it with you. Otherwise, you don’t need to bring anything. If you have diabetes, make sure you eat before your treatment begins. If your sinuses are congested or you feel ill, let the technician know so we can make you more comfortable.
What kind of patients are candidates for HBO?
Some potential candidates are people with diabetes who have wounds that are slow to heal; people with wounds that haven’t shown improvement in four weeks; people with certain bone and skin infections; people with radiation injuries; and people with compromised or failing skin grafts or flaps.
Do I have to go somewhere else for these treatments?
No, you’ll come here to the Wound Healing Center for treatment. Your therapy will be supervised by a specially-trained physician and monitored by a technician each day.
How long do HBO treatments last?
On average, treatments last about two hours. This includes the time to pressurize and depressurize the chamber plus 90 minutes at the prescribed treatment depth.
How many HBO treatments will I need?
The number of HBO treatments is not pre-set because each person responds differently to the therapy. The average number of treatments required to heal a patient with a problem wound is 20 to 40.
How many times a day will I be treated?
For most chronic wounds, HBO therapy each weekday is sufficient.
Is HBO therapy covered by my insurance?
Medicare has approved coverage for HBO therapy for many types of chronic nonhealing wounds. Most private insurance companies follow Medicare’s guidelines, as well.
Is HBO therapy painful?
No, the only sensation you will experience is during the pressurization phase of the treatment. The slowly increasing pressure will push on your eardrums. This is exactly the same feeling you would experience when landing in an airplane or diving to the bottom of a swimming pool. The hyperbaric staff will instruct you about different methods of relieving this ear pressure.
Is HBO therapy dangerous?
No, the treatment is very safe. Your Wound Healing Center has very strict procedures that assure your safety and make your treatment comfortable. Before your first treatment, you will be given a thorough orientation.
What can I do during HBO therapy? Can I read a book or newspaper?
Each chamber is equipped with its own television so that you can watch TV or a movie during your treatment. You may not bring anything in the chamber with you, including books and newspapers. Many patients simply use the time to catch up on some well-deserved rest.
Are there any bathroom facilities in the chamber?
No, however, it is possible to take a bedpan or urinal in with you during your treatment. The staff can finish the treatment early if required.
What if I feel claustrophobic?
Interestingly enough, most hyperbaric patients do not suffer from claustrophobia. This could be due to either the large size of the chamber or the fact that it has a clear acrylic shell. From inside the chamber, it is possible to see out in all directions. If you still feel anxious about your treatment, the hyperbaric physician can prescribe medication that will relax you and make your treatment less stressful.
How can I communicate with the technician?
The chamber is equipped with two-way communication. You can talk to the outside technician at any time. The technician can talk to you through the chamber microphone.