Hyperbaric Medicine/Wound Care: First used primarily as a treatment for decompression sickness and other diving accidents, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has proven highly effective for a number of medical and surgical conditions. This treatment is now available at many leading medical centers, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Medicare, and is recognized by the American Medical Association.
Noninvasive and painless, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is periodic, short-term inhalation of 100% oxygen at high pressures. It is typically used to augment other treatments and enhance the body's natural healing process. For instance, if small vessel disease or vasculitis reduces oxygen flow to a damaged area, hyperbaric oxygen therapy significantly increases oxygen delivery to hypoxic tissues.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy dramatically raises the oxygen level in the bloodstream and dissolves oxygen into all body fluids, including plasma, central nervous system fluids, lymph and bone. Delivering up to 15 times more oxygen to damaged tissues than normal respiration, hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases white blood cells' ability to kill bacteria, reduces local swelling and promotes the growth of new blood vessels.
Our program's physicians are faculty in George Washington's Department of Emergency Medicine who possess specialized expertise in hyperbaric oxygen therapy and are active clinical researchers in this area. They work closely with our technical and nursing staff, who also have special training in hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Our spacious, state-of-the-art hyperbaric facility is designed to provide a comfortable, pleasant environment for patients. We use SECHRIST monoplace hyperbaric chambers, which have an impeccable safety record. Their transparent, double-acrylic walls allow our technicians to closely monitor patients and allow patients a clear outward view. While inside these total-body chambers, patients can communicate with attending technicians via intercom, watch television, listen to music or nap.
Patients inhale 10 times as much oxygen as at sea level and experience approximately twice the atmospheric pressure. They rarely feel any more discomfort than they would from changes in air pressure during airplane travel.
Throughout treatment, patients are attended by one of our medical staff who has been specially trained in hyperbaric oxygen therapy. If a patient does need critical care, many modalities, including mechanical ventilation and invasive monitoring, are easily continued in the chamber. In addition, the program provides excellent wound care before and after hyperbaric treatment.
The frequency and duration of hyperbaric oxygen therapy varies considerably, depending on the condition being treated. Typical treatment is two hours per day, five days a week.
We treat acute and chronic patients, but only those referred by a physician. Patients remain under the primary care of the referring physician and receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an adjunct to existing treatment. Throughout the course of therapy, we maintain close contact with the referring physician.
Due to the size of our program, we can easily accommodate patients' schedules. We have a trained hyperbaric physician available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to field consultation requests or answer questions.