Part 1. What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is based on one simple fact: oxygen heals.
During a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) treatment a person is given 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized environment. When you combine pressure and oxygen, the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream increases. Essentially, oxygen sends a breath of fresh air into your wound and speeds the healing process.
Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body's fluids - the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and the bone. It can then be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked. Because of this, extra oxygen can reach all of the damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process. The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.
How does HBOT work with wound care?
Wounds need oxygen to heal. When a wound does not receive enough oxygen, it is not able to heal and is at a higher risk for infection. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows these wounds to receive 100 percent oxygen, giving them benefits that include:
- The ability to preserve injured tissue
- The ability to create more blood vessels to improve circulation. The better the circulation, the faster wounds can heal.
- Increase white blood cell activity which aids in fighting off infection.
- Reduced inflammation
Below are some of the approved indications for HBOT as it relates to wound care:
- Diabetic Wounds of the Lower Extremities (DWLE)
- Gas Gangrene
- Acute Traumatic Ischemias
- Enhancement of Healing In Selected Problem Wounds
- Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections
- Osteomyelitis (Refractory)
- Delayed Radiation Injury (Soft Tissue and Bony Necrosis)
- Compromised Grafts and Flaps
- Acute Thermal Burn Injury
HBOT is an effective adjunctive therapy used in conjunction with advanced wound care. Along with proper attention to nutrition and other underlying medical problems, greater healing results are achieved.
Coming up next… Part 2. The value in HBOT education.