Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has shown great results in clinical applications.

Oxygen plays an important part in wound healing, and a lack of oxygenation can lead to slow recovery. In such circumstances, clinicians often recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This technique exposes the body to pure oxygen in a pressurized environment in an effort to help speed healing. However, many patients are wary of the procedure, as it runs the risk of oxygen toxicity that may lead to convulsions and pressure-related trauma to the ears and nose, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Additionally, studies into the efficacy have provided varying results that served to confuse patients and providers about hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Contradicting research results

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy was developed in the 1930s to recompress divers and later became a complement to radiation cancer treatment. In the 1960s, this procedure was applied to assist in wound healing when by chance it was found that hyperbaric oxygen exposure sped up the recovery process. With that, researchers began digging deeper to discover just how – and if – the therapy works to expedite healing.

In 2008, a report by researchers from the King’s College Physician Assistant Program published in the Internet Journal of Academic Physician Assistants explored the subject. It looked at the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for diabetic non-healing wounds outlined by four different studies. The results showed that the method did not lead to a significant, long-term benefit, prompting the researchers to believe that it is simply a means of putting off the need for amputation.

Four years later, a report presented in the Journal of Anaesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology proved otherwise. The evaluation, conducted by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, studied the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy compared to conventional care on a total of 30 subjects with chronic non-healing wounds, who were assigned to groups randomly. After 30 days of therapy, the test group saw a 59 percent reduction in wound area, whereas the conventional treatment group experienced a 26 percent increase during this time frame.

Outcomes of real-life applications

Due to the distinctive nature of hyperbaric equipment, this treatment is often done in a specialized clinic. One such setting that has earned praise as of late is the Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center in Lansing, Michigan, which took the spotlight in a Lansing State Journal feature in 2015. The center focuses on treating everything from arterial ulcers to postoperative surgical complications to venous insufficiency ulcers, but most of its patients come in for non-healing diabetic foot ulcers.

As Dr. Mark Jones, osteopathic medicine specialist and medical director at the center, told the source, the outcomes have been excellent.

“Many patients who come to us for help feel desperate because they have a wound that hasn’t healed in many weeks or months, but we can usually help them,” Jones explained. “Truthfully, it’s rare that we can’t help someone. In fact, the center’s satisfaction rates are extremely high, with 100 percent of patients ‘very likely’ to recommend the wound center to family and friends.”

With hyperbaric oxygen therapy making headlines lately, there may be piqued interest in the procedure among the public and medical community. After all, any potential to delay or obsolesce amputation is, in most cases, worth a try. If you’re experiencing difficulty recovering from an ulcer or lesion, it may be time to consider this technique as a potential solution to non-healing wounds alongside wound dressings. Talk to your clinician about how hyperbaric oxygen treatment could help promote tissue development.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.