Hyperbaric oxygen therapy heals wounds

Bothwell Wound Healing Center Case Manager Brandi Potter R.N. communicates with a patient by phone as he has a hyperbaric oxygen therapy Tuesday morning at the center, located at 667 E. 15th St.

The Bothwell Wound Healing Center is bringing awareness to chronic and acute wound care with a comprehensive, case management approach and with hyperbaric oxygen therapy that has a 90 percent success rate.

“We call it HBO (or) hyperbaric oxygen therapy,” the Wound Center’s Program Director Paulisa Laughlin said. “It’s an adjunctive therapy. It means that it’s typically done in conjunction with wound care.”

The center, which opened in January 2013, is a member of the Healogics Inc. network and it is participating in the second annual national Wound Care Awareness Week June 1-5. The center is a collaboration between Healogics Inc. and Bothwell Regional Health Center.

“Bothwell staffs this clinic and Paulisa is actually with Healogics,” BRHC Communications Coordinator Rachel Dowler said. “We have a partnership …. it’s a joint effort.”

Laughlin and Dowler explained some of the processes of HBO therapy. Although the thought of a hyperbaric chamber sounds scary or like science fiction to some patients, it’s actually a very simple and painless procedure. Patients lay in a see-through cylinder or chamber, and they receive treatment for approximately 2.5 hours a day while resting comfortably on a bed watching television or a movie. It is used to treat “any non-healing wound.”

“Essentially what it does is by pressurizing your body on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, we raise the level of oxygen that’s in your blood,” she said.

The increase in oxygen increases blood flow, allowing the wound to heal faster. The procedure is done in increments.

“Every day we take you up in pressure like an airplane … each day the level is increased from where it started,” she added.

“(HBO’s) are for people who need medical attention,” Dowler said. “Basically, the primary patient that’s seen here is probably diabetic.”

“(HBO) provides 100 percent oxygen to the patient, where right now we’re breathing at about 21 percent,” the center’s Clinic Nurse Manager, Katie Case RN BSN, explained. “It saturates the patient’s blood and plasma with oxygen which promotes wound healing. It can reduce swelling and creates new blood vessels, it’s called angiogenesis. It treats infections, specifically bone infections.”

“Our No. 1 ideology is diabetes, second would be vascular,” Laughlin noted. “Those are the two primary patients that we treat.

The center also treats acute wounds.

“If a patient came in after having a motor vehicle accident and they were at risk of losing a limb we would put them in hyperbarics automatically,” she added. “There’s a full gambit of conditions that wound care and hyperbaric can both help. Our first thing is just to make sure you meet the criteria.”

Cased added that there are signs to look for such as a wound that doesn’t heal in 30 days; if a patient has signs of infection such as redness and a fever and excessive drainage they shouldn’t wait 30 days.

Laughlin said typically the center sees 300 people a month.

“We have a 90 percent healing rate, which is phenomenal from that standpoint,” she said. “That’s a statistic that through Healogics, which is our parent company, of 800 centers it’s above average. A 90 percent heal rate is a good statistic.”

“I’ve seen patients that have had hyperbaric for their wounds that I don’t think would have healed without hyperbaric,” Case said. “Wounds that may have taken a few years to heal have healed within six months.”

Laughlin stated that nationwide, one in 10 patients are diabetic.

“It’s growing unfortunately,” she added. “Fifteen percent of all diabetic patients will have a diabetic wound. The population in the United States is 8.3 (percent) and Pettis County has a 9 percent diabetic rate, and it continues to go up.”

“Diabetes is growing here in Pettis and Benton counties,” Dowler said. “All the things that bring on type-2 (diabetes) is lack of exercise, poor diet, hereditary reasons.”

Dowler added that using the HBO treatment will hopefully prevent the “extreme measures of amputation.”

“We’ve had patients that have HBO and have healed really well,” Laughlin said. “At the first sign of any problem, they understand the importance of making an appointment.”

One doesn’t need a doctor referral to make an appointment and patients are often seen within 24 hours.

“That really expedites and helps theses patients get the care they need, urgently,” Dowler said.

Treatment consists of 2.5 hours a day Monday through Friday in the hyperbaric chamber for a minimum of 30 days. Laughlin added that the Wound Center accepts all insurance.

“It is a commitment, but it is also a commitment to saving your limb,” Laughlin said. “One of the biggest things we treat with a diabetic is called osteomyelitis, it’s a bone infection. The bone basically deteriorates; it turns to mush. (HBO) helps with the pain and swelling.”

“The majority of the wounds we see are chronic wounds,” the center’s Medical Director and general surgeon Dr. Jeff Wadley said. “They have been there for awhile; that may have been a couple weeks or five or six years for some people. Unfortunately, a lot of those people have a lot of chronic health problems that lead to the wounds. So they’re not the typical wounds. That is why they set up these type of facilities to take care of them.”

He added that the center tries to “address” all the issues of the patients such as the proper doctor, orthotics, specialists in diabetes and hyperbaric therapy.

“It’s more of a system that’s set up for people that have special needs and those needs may vary from patient to patient, that’s what this place is set up for,” he added.

“It’s a comprehensive approach,” Laughlin noted. “A group approach.”

For more information about the Bothwell Wound Healing Center, located at 667 E. 15th St., call 827-2525. For more information on Wound Care Awarness Week, visit woundcareawareness.com.

Sedalia Democrat
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