Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Some patients may find relief in technology new to Edward Hospital the facility now has two Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers, which quickly deliver pure oxygen to damaged areas of the body. Lisle resident Gretchen Arnott started using a chamber for oxygen therapy earlier this month while fighting breast cancer.

“I had undergone radiation which damaged tissue in my breast area so it was suggested the healing would be aided by the use of this chamber,” said Arnott. “In fact, I can tell the discomfort I had is easing already.”

During therapy, patients lay inside a clear tube for two hours, breathing 100% oxygen, which helps stubborn wounds to heal.

“One of the reasons wounds won’t heal is they’re not getting enough oxygen,” said Dr. Jean Walsh. “And the reason they’re not getting enough oxygen is they’re not getting enough blood supply.”

Deep-sea divers receive similar treatment of sickness caused by major changes in pressure. The air inside the tubes is pressurized to more than 2 atmospheres, which is much like diving 66 feet below sea level. That helps the oxygen dissolve in the blood’s plasma.

“You’re really forcing that oxygen to be all the way to the level of the cell and when the oxygen level goes high like that, it causes androgenizes or new blood vessels to form,” said Walsh. “The oxygen is also bacterial-thetic, so it kills off the bacteria that might be in there if there’s an infection.“

This sort of treatment is often used for lack of blood supply, a bone infection, open wounds that won’t heal, or tissue damage.

Hyperbaric chambers are usually used as a last resort, but can save a patient from having to lose a limb in order to survive.

As for Arnott, she hopes the chambers will continue to heal her radiation wounds.

“My being a cancer patient, I’ve gone through so much already and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be healed and to improve,” she said. “I’d like to impart that on other people too that it might help them.”

Patients need more than one session of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be effective, sometimes requiring up to 30 treatments.

Staff at Edward Hospital say it costs about a $1 million for the two chambers, the room that houses them and the oxygen supply. They plan to add a third chamber within the next year.

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