At the Wound Center in Lorain: New Hope for People with Chronic, Non-Healing Wounds
A wound that won't heal can affect
every aspect of your life. It's depressing, because it limits your ability to
take part in daily activities. Often, the wound is on your foot, which means
you can't wear shoes. Non-healing wounds usually smell bad. They can keep you
in a wheelchair. Probably most distressing of all, if the wound never heals,
studies show there's a 40 percent chance the foot will need to be amputated.
And amputation is often the beginning of a slide down a slippery slope that
leads to poorer and poorer health.
Healing requires oxygen
When your body is functioning well,
wounds heal because your circulatory system allows oxygen to get to the wound
site. For people who have problems with circulation, the healing process can
take much longer. Diabetic foot wounds are some of the most common chronic wound
One solution to the problem of chronic
wound healing is the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which delivers 100 percent oxygen
to the patient. The problem with traditional chambers is that they provide room
for only one patient. Treatment in these chambers can be anxiety-provoking and
claustrophobic, considering that most patients spend 90 minutes to two hours
in the chamber at a time, typically 5 days a week for 6 to 8 weeks.
In fact, the experience in these
chambers can be so difficult for some people that they often don't complete
their treatment, which increases the likelihood that their wounds will not heal.
New oxygen chamber provides a
much improved experience for patients
The Community Health Partners Regional
Wound Care Center® & Burn Program in Lorain has acquired a new, state-of-the
art hyperbaric oxygen center that has revolutionized the patient's experience
of this type of wound healing. The environment within the chamber is compressed
air, which is two to three times greater than atmospheric or sea-level pressure.
Over time, treatment in the chamber can create new blood vessel formation within
a wound, which greatly improves healing.
Ron Gordon, Co-President of Mobile
Hyperbaric Centers, which provides these chambers to hospitals throughout the
country, says, "The new multi-place chambers can accommodate 10 patients
and one technician at a time. We have four treatment sessions per day. It's
a little bit like being in an airplane, with first class seats. Patients receive
the oxygen through a hood-it's like an astronaut's hood that's clear all around.
There's a 30-inch television in the chamber. We subscribe to NetFlix. There's
even one group that plays Texas Hold 'Em in there."
In the older chambers, explains Dr.
Gordon, patients were enclosed in a tube. The tube was closed, and oxygen was
pumped in. It was difficult for patients because they were alone in the tube
the entire time. In the new chambers, says Dr. Gordon, "There's a technician
in there 100 percent of the time. The technicians are trained in emergency medicine.
The tech can check patient's blood sugar levels, help them if they're nervous
and just help them out in general. If one person needs to leave, they're able
to do so without disrupting the treatment of the other patients."
Giving patients a life again
There are about 400 of these new
hyperbaric oxygen chambers located throughout the country. "The heal rate,"
says Dr. Gordon, "is 90 to 95 percent."
The compliance rate among patients
who get treatment in the multi-person chambers is 90 percent. Dr. Gordon says
it's extremely rewarding to know that amputations are being prevented and people's
lives are vastly improving. He's especially encouraged that Medicare and Medicaid
are now covering this type of treatment.
"As patients begin to feel better,"
he says, "they begin to take a more active role in healing themselves.
They understand the importance of being involved in their own care. They're
also healthier. They can't smoke in the chamber. They're a captive audience,
so we have an opportunity to teach them about caring for themselves. They're
not wheelchair-bound, they don't have malodorous wounds anymore. They can wear
shoes again. Their spirits are lifted. They're not as depressed. This wound
healing goes beyond the chamber. It affects their entire lives.
"We're brining modalities to
them where the answer isn't amputation. Instead of showing patients a knife,
we're giving them a life again."