Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment used to accelerate the healing of wounds and infections when tissues lack the oxygen required to heal. “Hyper” means ”increased” and “baric” refers to pressure.
Patients enter a room referred to as the hyperbaric chamber. In the chamber, patients are fitted with hoods. The chamber is pressurized, and the hoods allow patients to breathe 100% oxygen in this pressurized environment.
How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work?
Breathing 100% oxygen inside the pressurized chamber increases oxygen in the bloodstream. This means the oxygen can get to the patient’s wound site more quickly, which helps wounds heal faster. Basically, it is healing a wound from the inside out.
What types of wounds can be treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
This therapy can help reduce swelling, fight infection, and build new blood vessels, which helps produce healthy tissue. It can also be used to fight certain types of infections, improve circulation, and to encourage the growth of new blood vessels.
What is the chamber like?
Michigan Medicine’s hyperbaric chamber is called a “multiplace chamber.” This means more than one person can be in the room (the chamber) at a time. We use a multiplace chamber to make sure that patients don’t feel claustrophobic or isolated. It is a comfortable, even social, environment. Our chamber holds up to 10 patients per treatment. Patients are seated in large, comfortable leather chairs.
An attendant fits patients with specialized hoods, through which they will receive oxygen. While in the chamber, patients can read, watch TV, and change position. Standing up and moving around is permitted. An attendant is always available to monitor and address any patient needs.
How long do patients stay in the chamber?
Patients are in the chamber for approximately two hours per treatment. They spend 30 minutes in the hood, then the hood is removed for 10 minutes. We repeat the hood cycle three times.
What should patients expect during treatment?
Patients will hear a hissing sound as the chamber is pressurized. They may feel warm for a few minutes at the beginning. Similar to an airplane cabin, patients might feel pressure or squeezing in their ears, sinuses or teeth. This may be prevented by yawning, swallowing a sip of water, or chewing gum (water and gum are provided).
Patients should tell the attendant if they notice pain in their ears or other areas. When the pressure is released at the end of the treatment, patients will feel cool. There are no special procedures during this process - just breathe normally.
Are there side effects?
Some patients may experience inner ear damage. It is important to notify the attendant if you experience ear pain during treatment. Vision changes can also occur in some patients. Patients should notify a medical professional and the hyperbaric team immediately if they notice their vision worsening during their treatment cycle.
While rare, some patients do experience oxygen toxicity seizures. Our chamber is continually monitored by attendants to immediately identify and assist if this occurs.
Make an Appointment
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is administered by the Michigan Medicine Wound Care Clinic. Call the clinic at 734-936-9795 with questions regarding this therapy or for information on how to refer a potential patient.