Wound recovery is a combination of lifestyle factors, fitness level, type of wound, and the healing environment. Above all, wounds need oxygen to heal. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves exposure to increased levels of pressurized oxygen. Hyperbarics can be used to speed up chronic wound healing.
What is hyperbaric therapy?
Hyperbaric therapy exposes the body to a high amount of pressurized oxygen. The procedure takes place in a single chamber unit or a hyperbaric therapy room. Post-injury the body goes into oxygen debt. Increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood promotes circulation to the wounded areas, decreasing inflammation and encouraging new cell growth. Too much inflammation directly impedes oxygen circulation. Increasing oxygen levels improves the body’s ability to fight off infections and enables a better recovery. HBOT has been used for everything from the treatment of diabetic wounds to skin grafts and even sudden hearing or vision loss. Hyperbaric therapy is most well-known for the treatment of decompression sickness.
Chronic wound treatment
Chronic wounds do not heal in a normal manner. Any wound that has lasted over the 3-month mark is considered chronic. There are 4 healing phases: blood clotting, inflammation, new tissue growth, and maturation. Chronic wounds are stuck in 1 of the 4 healing phases. Treatment for chronic wounds will depend on the type of wound. For chronic wounds, the underlying causes need to be identified and addressed to determine a proper treatment plan. Often once the underlying causes are treated, the wound healing progresses at a much quicker pace. Overweight individuals and those suffering from diabetes are the most likely to suffer from chronic wounds, especially in the lower extremities.
Factors affecting healing
The Wound Healing Society uses the acronym TIME to help identify the factors that affect wound healing.
Tissue: Dying tissue can cause wound healing to slow and additional tissue may need to be removed.
Inflammation or infection: Both hinder circulation, new cell growth, and wound recovery.
Moisture: Environments that are too dry or too wet have negative implications on wound health.
Edge: Are the edges of the wound naturally coming together?
How can hyperbarics help?
Wounds and oxygen go hand-in-hand. Chronic wound tissues are hypoxic, resulting in delayed healing. The tissues have low O2 levels and therefore poor blood circulation. Hyperbaric therapy increases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and reduces inflammation. If the swelling cannot be reduced, the oxygen cannot circulate properly. Reduction in inflammation is crucial for hyperbarics to work. Getting more oxygen to the infected area will give the wound a greater chance of moving through the 4 healing stages. HBOT heals the wound from the inside out.
Start healing faster today
Chronic wounds need oxygen. Hyperbarics may be the answer. Increasing oxygen levels to the infected area will greatly increase the wound healing process. Speak with a healthcare provider today about how HBOT can help wounds heal faster.