Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy helps cancer patients heal
By Sarah Te Slaa, Multimedia Producer/ Anchor - email
Patients are usually prescribed 90-minute therapy sessions in the chamber five days a week.
Radiation treatments for cancer patients can often leave behind visible and not-so visible wounds. Those wounds can be hard to treat and often don't heal, but a special treatment at Mercy Medical Center's Advanced Wound Center can help.
For cancer patients, a hyperbaric chamber offers a treatment for the pain, bleeding, and discomfort they often experience after radiation therapy.
"If they've had radiation and if they've had problems afterwards, such as developing an ulcer, problems with abdominal pain, diarrhea, or pain in the soft tissues that was irradiated, these can be treated with the hyperbaric chamber," says Dr. Paul Johnson with Mercy Medical Center.
The chamber delivers Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. It's often used as a last resort for patients who have complicated external and internal wounds caused by radiation therapy.
"Basically what the hyperbaric chamber does is re-establish blood flow to the tissue," says Dr. Johnson.
Patients are usually prescribed the 90-minute therapy sessions in the hyperbaric chamber five days a week. They are placed in the chamber, which is slowly pressurized.
"That's what causes all the red blood cells, including the plasma that your blood cells travel in, to be completely saturate with oxygen," says Mark Moran, the Program Director at Mercy's Advanced Wound Center. "It will carry that throughout the tissues much better than what your normal blood supply would."
"With that increased oxygen, it does a number of things, but one of those things is increased blood supply and oxygenation of the tissue," says Dr. Johnson. "It helps kill bacteria and it helps the cells perform normally."
They say Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy works and they've had good success with patients.
"I've always been amazed at how well the body can heal with a little bit of help," says Dr. Johnson. "Whether you are young or old, your body has a remarkable ability to heal. It's wonderful to see people heal."
There are few side effects from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, but due to the pressure, a patient's ears might pop, like they would in an airplane or underwater. If a patient can't equalize that pressure, then they might put in ear tubes to help.
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