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Wound Therapy in Hyperbaric Chambers!

Aimee Copeland’s story is in the news this week.  She’s a young GA woman who went kayaking and cut a gash in her calf on a homemade zip line, those things that kids hook themselves to and dash across a metal wire.

Aimee had the accident about eleven days ago, and she was seen by doctors a couple of days later and they diagnosed her as having developed an infection due to flesh eating bacteria.  Her physicians amputated her leg, but now it looks like the young woman will also lose her hands.

It’s a horrible story, but the good news is that she woke up and mouthed ” Where Am I”?  Which means maybe the worst is behind her, but I know I’m going to keep praying for her.

Some of the folks who are commenting on her school’s website are saying they’ve had relatives who have had similar problems who were helped to heal through hyperbaric chambers.  I can’t tell you the mechanics of the chambers, but I can say that I checked pretty darn quick to find out if we have any of those chambers in our area.

Of course you’ll need your physician to recommend that type of treatment, but we do in fact have one right in Paoli.  Phew!

Here is some information-

Hyperbaric treatment is well known for its use in underwater diving accidents, but also has beneficial healing effects in other conditions including:

  • Refractory osteomyelitis
  • Radiation tissue damage
  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities
  • Other chronic nonhealing wounds

Patients are accepted for HBOT after referral from their own physician and consultation with a physician specially trained in hyperbaric medicine. Our staff will explain your individual treatment plan as well as the risks and benefits of therapy.

What are the common side effects of HBOT?

Most patients tolerate hyperbaric therapy quite well. However, there are several common side effects that may occur:

  • Temporary visual changes: You may experience subtle improvement or worsening in your vision during the course of treatment. Vision will return to pretreatment levels after completion the course of treatment.
  • Fullness in the ears: As the hyperbaric chamber pressurizes, you may notice a “popping” or fullness in your ears. This is a temporary sensation and you will be instructed on techniques to clear your ears. Techniques like chewing gum and simply yawning can help equalize ear pressure.
  • Increased opaqueness of preexisting cataracts: If you have been diagnosed with cataracts, you should discuss the possibility of increased opaqueness with your ophthalmologist.

What is the typical treatment plan?

Hyperbaric treatments are generally 120 minutes daily, five days per week. The number of treatments is based on each individual diagnosis according to the guidelines of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS).

What does the HBOT chamber look like?

The hyperbaric chamber is located within the Wound Healing Center at Paoli Hospital. The chamber is cylinder-shaped allowing you to lay comfortably during treatment. You can see through the chamber throughout the session and can watch TV, listen to music or even take a nap. A nurse specially trained in hyperbaric medicine will stay with you at all times while you receive treatment and will stay in constant communication with you via an intercom system.

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