You don’t need a reminder that oxygen is essential to life, but did you realize the role of oxygen in your body doesn’t start and stop in your lungs?
Other than helping you breathe, a continuous supply of oxygen is also critical for wound and injury healing.
However, the oxygen you inhale on a daily basis isn’t always enough to stimulate deep healing. So how can you nourish your cells and tissues with the concentrated oxygen needed to reverse your injuries and improve your health?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the answer. This safe and natural alternative therapy uses the power of pressurized oxygen to revitalize and regenerate your body’s innate healing system. The following six hyperbaric chamber benefits demonstrate the true value of HBOT as a treatment for a wide range of injuries, wounds, and other health problems.
Why Is Oxygen so Important for Successful Wound Healing?
Most of the core functions involved in wound healing are oxygen-dependent, so it makes sense that increasing oxygen in the body can support the wound-healing process.
There’s no one single reason that certain parts of the body become deprived of oxygen. Instead, it’s a complex problem of supply and demand. Many factors have the potential to decrease the supply of oxygen into the blood and cells, including heart disease, radiation therapy, and tissue inflammation.
It’s also possible for oxygen demand to surge in response to the body’s needs and ultimately outpace oxygen supply. Think of it as oxygen economics within the body!
How Does Oxygen Support Wound Healing?
Under normal circumstances, oxygen can only make its way through the blood within red blood cells. When red blood cells are too low or can’t circulate properly, important tissues become deprived of oxygen.
Cells that lack sufficient oxygen can’t produce the energy needed for bacterial defense, collagen synthesis, regeneration, or any other essential reparative functions. Instead, the healing process slows until it comes to a full halt. It’s not enough to simply inhale oxygen — the body needs concentrated oxygen flow to overcome its deficiencies.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy overcomes oxygen deficiencies in the body with a special hyperbaric chamber that releases concentrated and pressurized oxygen. Instead of simply applying a cream or ointment topically to address an injury, HBOT infuses the entire body with oxygen that permeates all areas of the body, even areas where circulation has become reduced or blocked.
This essential benefit of hyperbaric wound care stimulates and supports the body’s natural healing capabilities. When white blood cells receive enough oxygen, they can effectively kill bacteria, reduce swelling, and allow the rapid reproduction of new blood vessels. HBOT even enables cells to build new connective tissue and improve organ function.
What Are the Benefits of a Hyperbaric Chamber?
Scientific research has firmly established the fact that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a valuable treatment for patients experiencing a wide range of problems, but how does it really work to fight wounds and injuries?
The true science of HBOT reveals impressive hyperbaric chamber benefits to the body. Each of the following benefits allows HBOT to deliver significant and lasting results.
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The condition of edema occurs when too much water fluid accumulates in the cavities or tissues of the body. Edema can occur anywhere, from the brain (cerebral edema) to the heart (pulmonary edema). Since edema increases tissue pressure and restricts circulation, it automatically stunts wound recovery.
HBOT decreases edema since it stimulates better circulation. The fluids built up inside the body can move through the body to be filtered and eliminated. As a result, injured tissues become better oxygenated and healing can finally continue.
When tissue becomes hyperoxygenated through HBOT treatment, it becomes saturated with the oxygen known to stimulate healing. Hyperoxygenated tissues undergo reepithelialization, which is an increase in the epithelial cells responsible for closing wounds and forming a barrier on the skin.
Research shows that tissue hyperoxygenation through HBOT can increase the rate of wound closure by as much as 69 percent! This is an especially powerful benefit for adults with diabetes who are at higher risk of non-healing wounds.
Enhanced Antibacterial Activity By Leukocytes
When the body becomes flooded with oxygen through a treatment like HBOT, antibacterial activity immediately increases. Leukocytes, a type of white blood cell, gain strength and momentum from oxygen. They’re able to more effectively kill dangerous bacteria and free radicals while also removing dead cellular debris. Studies show that leukocytes perform best at oxygen levels above 300 mmHg, levels only achievable with supplemental oxygen through HBOT.
Angiogenesis is the essential function of creating new blood vessels. Without angiogenesis, tissue cannot survive or undergo repair after injury. Since oxygen levels in the body directly influence the rate and quality of angiogenesis, only a treatment like HBOT can directly stimulate and improve the creation of new blood vessels.
HBOT also supports optimal collagen synthesis, one of the most vital components of blood vessel development. Collagen is the primary component of skin and accounts for as much as 80% of our skin’s dry weight. It functions as the structural scaffold of skin by organizing itself into bundles of interwoven fibers. Collagen can’t develop without collagen, and new capillary tubes can’t gain strength without collagen.
All of this makes oxygen absolutely necessary for any level of healing within the body.
Synergistic Effects With Antibiotics
Doctors prescribe antibiotics to combat bacterial infections in the body, but antibiotics can’t always sustain results alone. Research indicates that HBOT works synergistically with antibiotics as an adjunctive treatment.
In other words, HBOT maximizes the effects of antibiotics by optimizing oxygen levels in the body and enhancing leukocytes to kill dangerous bacteria. Some studies even show that the length of time using antibiotic therapy can be reduced with the use of HBOT.
Stimulate Growth Factors
When HBOT treatment saturates the body with 100% pure oxygen, the growth factors in blood platelets become activated. Growth factors are extremely powerful proteins that regulate growth and differentiation of cells in the body. They also stimulate the major components of wound healing like leukocytes and fibroblast. Since HBOT stimulates growth factor activity, it in turn nurtures the best conditions for wound healing.
This is exactly why HBOT has become so popular for athletes with injuries. They don’t want to sit out on the bench for weeks or months before returning to play. HBOT gives athletes the opportunity to accelerate their healing process and get back on the field.
These six hyperbaric oxygen therapy benefits demonstrate the incredible power of pressurized oxygen to rejuvenate, heal, and revitalize the body’s core functions. A series of HBOT treatments can transform the body and reverse chronic injuries.
How Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Administered?
Hyperbaric therapy used to create an unpleasant experience in small chambers that felt more like coffins than medical treatments. However, today’s HBOT technology is so advanced that it’s a relaxing and enjoyable experience — especially when you visit a practice committed entirely to hyperbaric medicine like R3 Wound Care and Hyperbarics.
When you visit R3, you receive all of the benefits of hyperbaric chamber treatment and more. You’ll enjoy HBOT in a private setting with the latest hyperbaric technology, including a clear acrylic chamber where you can comfortably recline and view your surroundings at all times. You’ll be able to hear and speak to your treatment team as they monitor your entire procedure.
Once you’re in the hyperbaric chamber, you’ll relax in a comfortable cotton gown with pillows and blankets as the atmospheric pressure and oxygen levels gradually increase. The treatment is painless, although you may experience a sensation of pressure in your ears, very similar to the sensation you feel in an airplane while descending. During your treatment, which lasts about one and a half to two hours, you can sleep, watch TV, listen to music, or just relax.
Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Safe?
Absolutely! Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a time-tested treatment that was developed in the 1600s. It’s been used for medical treatments since the 19th century, especially for divers suffering decompression sickness. Since HBOT is strictly regulated, patients experience very few side effects or problems after treatment.
Furthermore, hyperbaric wound care offers a safe, natural, and efficient medical therapy for non-healing wounds and other conditions that resist standard treatments. It uses nothing but carefully regulated 100% oxygen at pressures above regular atmospheric pressure, so the risk of complications is very low.
Even the old fears of claustrophobia don’t occur with the HBOT treatments offered at R3. Our HBOT chambers are so large and clear that you forget you’re in a chamber at all. Better yet, a technician is outside throughout your entire procedure and you have speakers to communicate for anything you need.
Call (210) 582-5307 or visit us online to learn more about the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the many ways it can transform your wellbeing!
Leslie Morris is a Physician Assistant at R3 Wound Care & Hyperbarics, a state-of-the-art wound care & hyperbaric oxygen therapy outpatient clinic with locations in San Antonio and DFW.