Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Therapy has been successfully used for years to treat scuba divers and victims of the "bends" or decompression sickness. But you're not a scuba diver, right? So what can hyperbaric oxygen therapy do for you? It's become a very successful means of treatment for a variety of disorders, everyday injuries and illnesses. From carbon monoxide poisoning to orthopaedics, surgery, burn and wound care, infectious diseases and emergency medicine.

Many people think of a hyperbaric chamber as a little tube, barely big enough to accommodate the average person, but not at St. Joe. We have the largest "dive tanks" in Indiana. Our patients (up to 17 at a time) can sit or recline comfortably. We even have a television and radio to help you pass the time as you receive treatment. At least one member of the Hyperbaric Therapy Department will be in the dive tank during treatment. Other staff members can watch through the many observation windows. Whether inside or out, the intercom system allows our patients and staff to communicate constantly.

During the treatment (the dive), oxygen is administered into the pressurized chamber. This greatly increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues throughout the body, stimulating wound healing, fighting infection and promoting new growth in blood vessels and arteries.

The medical benefits of hyperbaric oxygen treatment can be significant:

  • Increased blood flow to injured tissue helps promote healing
  • Greater blood vessel formation means your body has more efficient blood flow to continue healing
  • Reduced swelling not only makes patients more comfortable, it can also help physicians treat you more effectively after the hyperbaric treatment
  • Reduced risk of infection is significant, especially in people who have suffered burns
  • Advanced wound healing
  • Preservation of damaged tissue is vital in treating burns and wounds
  • Stimulation of new bone formation can greatly increase recovery time for orthopedic patients
  • Reduced effects of toxic substances like carbon monoxide

Once you're comfortable inside the chamber, compressed air will begin to circulate. You'll experience a fullness in your ears much like traveling in the mountains or flying in an airplane. Our staff inside and outside the tank will help you through this process so you can remain as comfortable as possible. Once the desired pressure is reached, the pressure in you ears will stop.

During compression, the chamber temporarily becomes warm, but cools within minutes of reaching the treatment depth.

Everyone in the tank will wear a large, clear plastic hood. When the oxygen is applied, you can read, sleep, watch TV or just relax. Breaks will be provided from the oxygen and hood once or twice during the treatment.

When the treatment is over, the oxygen hood will be removed and the pressure inside the chamber will be released. During this process, known as decompression, you may notice that your ears pop and crackle a bit. This is normal. The temperature will change again during decompression and you may feel cold. Blankets are available for comfort.

HBO therapy is considered a primary treatment for:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Decompression sickness
  • Acute gas embolism

HBO therapy is considered an important form of treatment for the following conditions:

  • Acute cyanide poisoning
  • Acute peripheral embolization
  • Acute traumatic peripheral ischemia
  • Chronic refractory osteomyelitis
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Compromised skin grafts or flaps
  • Crush injury and sutured severed limbs
  • Diabetic foot wounds
  • Gas gangrene
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
  • Problem wounds such as certain types of problem wounds
  • Radiation necrosis

No matter what symptoms or conditions, if your doctor recommends hyperbaric oxygen therapy, our staff will work to ensure your comfort during treatment. Many people are nervous, but once they see how large the tank is, they're able to relax.

Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment is painless and, more importantly, is extremely effective in helping you heal.