More people with non-healing wounds from diabetes or radiation treatment are turning to hyperbaric oxygen therapy to boost the amount of oxygen in their blood, allowing them to heal, according to Dr. Robert Sanders, medical director of the American Hyperbaric Center in Anchorage.
It is more commonly known as a way to treat decompression illness after diving. During a session in the oxygen chamber, what the team at the center refers to as a "dive", the patient's oxygen levels are usually equivalent to a dive depth of 45 to 60 feet. Sanders says the therapy can carry at least six times more oxygen per ounce of blood to problem tissues and even stimulate new blood vessel growth.
The therapy is expensive, but Sanders says it is covered by most insurance carriers, making it more affordable to the patient. There are risks involved, but the risk factor is low, said Sanders, and most people do not feel any sort of discomfort.
Doug Owen is a hyperbaric oxygen patient who is undergoing the therapy before upcoming surgery related to radiation treatment for cancer in his neck. He says the therapy is simply a matter of sitting and breathing, and there are additional benefits that he did not expect.
"there's no side effects. Actually, I feel better. I have more energy, I sleep really good at night. Those are two benefits I get that I didn't even realize," said Owen.
There are locations in Anchoage and Wasilla. For more information, visit www.americanhyperbariccenter.com.