Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a safe and evidence-based treatment that helps the body’s oxygen-dependent, wound-healing mechanisms function more efficiently. While enclosed in a chamber at greater-than-normal atmospheric pressure, you’ll breathe pure oxygen. HBOT saturates your blood plasma, allowing it to carry between 15 to 20 times the normal amounts of healing oxygen to your body’s tissues, which helps fight bacteria and stimulate the release of supportive growth factors and stem cells. Essentially, the added oxygen in your blood helps your body naturally heal your wounds from the inside out.
A typical course of treatment usually requires you to spend around 90 minutes in the chamber five days a week over a four- to six-week period. Technicians will guide the process and are in control of the chambers at all times during a session. If you’re prescribed HBOT treatment, you’ll also be informed on how best to prepare for the sessions, such as not wearing any perfumes, lotions, make-up, nail polish or haircare products. The hyperbaric chambers are clear, and can have TVs positioned outside of them so you can watch your favorite shows or movies during your appointment.
Medicare and many health care plans reimburse for HBOT when used for certain approved cases. These include:
- Actinomycosis - long-term infections causing sores or abscesses in the mouth, nose, throat, intestines or other soft tissues in the body.
- Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency - poor arterial blood supply in the limbs, leading to tissues not receiving enough oxygen.
- Chronic refractory osteomyelitis - an infection in the bone lasting longer than six months, even after the appropriate surgery, medical therapy and medications are administered.
- Compromised skin grafts and flaps - caused by insufficient oxygen supply to the new tissue.
- Crush injury - excessive force or pressure on a body part can cause inadequate blood supply to organs and body tissues, a condition known as acute traumatic peripheral ischemia.
- Diabetic ulcers - potentially caused by many factors, including high blood sugar, poor blood flow, nerve damage or irritations and wounds.
- Progressive necrotizing infections - caused by disease, inflammation, injury or failure of blood. This causes tissues to die.
- Soft-tissue radionecrosis and osteonecrosis - the death of soft tissues or bone tissues caused by ionizing radiation.