Sep 18, 2012 10:54 AM by Marissa Torres
It's a treatment that can cure practically anything. From a stubborn wound that won't heal, to carbon monoxide poisoning, Hypberbaric chambers are saving lives everyday.
Neil Barlow knows the benefits first hand.
"I'm a Scleroderma patient, that means I have difficulties with my skin. It's an auto immune disorder that my skin doesn't heal the way it should."
Over the years, Barlow has made several trips to the doctor's office and undergone various tests. Just when it seemed all options had been exhausted, Barlow was introduced to hyperbaric medicine.
"I didn't know what to expect, but I found out very quickly"
Susan Ridge, a nurse at Memorial Hospital works in the hypberbaric unit and treated Barlow.
"If you mess with his skin too much, it doesn't do well. But if you him the HBO, allow his own body defense to marshall and get that immune system kind of jazzed up, then he goes on to heal much better."
For Barlow, it took about 4 months of treatment, 2 hours of laying in a chamber, day after day, and soon, changes were noticed.
"One of the things it will do is increase the growth of the capillaries into the wound bed. What that does is bring extra nutrients, and oxygen, and healing properties into the wound so it will heal," says Ridge.
It's all possible because while in a hyperbaric chamber, a patient breathes 100% oxygen at a pressure higher than sea level.
The treatment is gradual, requiring multiple sessions, and it's usually a 'last-resort' therapy.
"What we do is added on to good wound care, good nutrition, and just general taking care of yourself," says Ridge.
Barlowe says it's all those factors that helped his skin heal and he's now done with treatments, hopefully for good.
There are rare times hyperbaric treatments can be an immediate therapy, i.e. Decompression sickness and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Memorial Hospital has the only hypberbaric medicine program in Southern Colorado and was recently "accredited with distinction"- ranking as one of the best in the country.