Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Our elite team of hyperbaric specialists, led by Dr. Owen J. O’Neill, MD, UHM, FAPWCA, excel in all aspects of hyperbaric medicine including: Clinical, Undersea Medicine, Wound Care Treatment, and Research. In fact, we treat all acceptable conditions that can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy:
- Acute thermal burns
- Air or gas embolism
- Arterial insufficiency, including frostbite, Raynaud’s disease, and problem wounds
- Anemia (severe)
- Brain abscess (intracranial abscess)
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Central retinal artery occlusion
- Central retinal vein occlusion
- Compromised skin and muscle grafts and flaps
- Crush injury, compartment syndrome, and other acute traumatic injuries that deprive tissue of oxygen
- Decompression sickness (“the bends”)
- Delayed radiation injury (soft tissue and bony necrosis)
- Enhancement of healing in select problem wounds, including in persons with diabetes or vascular disease
- Gas gangrene (clostridial myositis and myonecrosis)
- Infection of the bone (osteomyelitis)
- Radiation injury, delayed (soft tissue and bone necrosis involving the bladder, colon, female pelvic organs, upper respiratory tract, head and neck, brain, spinal cord, and skin)
- Radiation soft-tissue damage (sub-acute) in areas of planned surgery, especially involving the head and neck)
- Sudden neurologic hearing loss of unknown cause (idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss)
- Soft tissue infections involving tissue death (necrotizing soft tissue infections)
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society defines hyperbaric oxygen therapy as “ A treatment in which the patient breathes 100% pure oxygen intermittently while inside a treatment chamber at a pressure higher than sea level” (usually, 2 to 3 times regular atmospheric pressure).
The doctor may prescribe hyperbaric oxygen therapy by itself, but often in combination with other medical or surgical treatments including those currently offered by your physician.
What should I expect during my consultation with the doctor?
The doctor will review all of your medical records and will take a detailed medical history that will include questions about your current condition(s), treatments you have tried, and medications and nutritional supplements you are currently taking. The doctor may want to discuss your commitment to treatment, as hyperbaric oxygen therapy can continue for a few days to a few months, depending on your condition. This visit is also the time for you to discuss any concerns you have about hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the treatment chamber itself.
Your hyperbaric physician will detail a care plan for you, based on your medical history and current condition. He or she might also schedule you for additional medical testing. You will also be scheduled for an orientation session, which you’ll need to complete before your first hyperbaric oxygen session.
What can I expect during a treatment session?
You will be given a set of 100% cotton scrubs to change into for your treatment session (you can leave cotton undergarments on beneath the scrubs). You can leave your socks (non-wool/silk/cashmere) and shoes (sneakers or leather shoes) on during treatment. We will give you paper shoe covers so you don’t track dirt or solvents from your soles to the chamber.
You’ll be escorted into the chamber and will sit in a comfortable high-backed chair. Other people will be in the chamber with you—including the hyperbaric medicine team members. Once you are seated, a soft rubber ring will be fitted around your neck to prevent oxygen from leaking into the chamber from your breathing device. The pressure in the chamber will be slowly increased. During this phase, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll need to equalize pressure in your ears. One common method is to hold your nose and puff out against the pressure until you feel your ears clear, like you might do on an airplane. Holding your nose closed while swallowing is also a very easy way to accomplish this. If you feel uncertain or have questions, don’t worry—a team member is always nearby to offer help.
Once you have equalized your ear pressure and the chamber is at treatment pressure, the therapist will put a clear vinyl hood over your head, and you will breathe in pure oxygen. During this part of the treatment session you will just sit comfortably.
After breathing oxygen for 30 minutes, you will have an air break for 5 minutes. During this time, you may drink water or juice and chat with team members and other patients.
The cycle of oxygen for 30 minutes, air for 5 minutes, will be repeated, ending with one more 30-minute oxygen session for a total dose of 90 minutes of oxygen breathing. During the treatment time, you can read, rest, watch TV, or just sleep.
At the end of this session, the hood is removed but the neck ring stays on until you exit the chamber. You’ll breathe normal air as the pressure in the chamber slowly returns to normal. This takes 10 to 15 minutes. You might feel popping in your ears or a “rice crispies” sensation that is completely normal as the pressure slowly decreases.
The nurse will check your vital signs before and after treatment. If you have diabetes, he or she will also check your blood sugar level.
What are the benefits of a multiple-person hyperbaric treatment chamber?
There are many advantages of a multiple-person over a single-person hyperbaric chamber:
- Our hyperbaric medicine team specialists accompany you or your loved one into the chamber during treatment.
- Since several people can be treated at the same time, the treatment experience is social rather than isolated
- Reduced tendency to cause claustrophobia
- Our chamber features restroom access during treatment
Simply stated, we can offer anything inside our chamber that can be offered outside. This is not true of single-person chambers.
Not all hyperbaric oxygen treatment centers are alike, so it’s good to understand the differences before you choose a facility. Most hyperbaric medicine centers in the area are not staffed by board-certified hyperbaric therapy specialists, and most have single-person chambers.
Hyperbaric oxygent therapy is the best treatment for tissue damage caused by cancer radiation treatment
Soft tissue damage is a common side effect from cancer radiation therapy. Hyperbaric oxygent therapy is the best treatment. Radiation injury to tissues is a side effect resulting from cancer radiation therapy.
To ensure that all of our patients receive the most comprehensive and seamless care, we arrange for evaluation by specialists in physical therapy, diabetic education, nutrition and social work. We also coordinate referrals to specialists in vascular, plastic and general surgery, orthopedics, dermatology, and endocrinology.
Certified scuba diver since 1975, hyperbaric specialist and EMT since 1982, and Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) for over 33 years.
Aaron has over 10 years of hyperbaric medicine experience, serves on our Emergency Dive Medical Team, and is actively involved in our tunneling projects.
Blaze Theriot is a Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) with over seven years of experience in working with both single and multiple person chambers.
Mike has been a practicing hyperbaric technologist since 2003. His 12 years of experience in clinical hyperbaric and diving practice is as broad as it is diverse.
Kimberly Delfino Joined Westchester Hyperbaric Medicine and Wound Care in May 2015 as our office and financial coordinator.