CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – A more than 7 foot long and 3 foot in diameter cylindrical Plexiglass hyperbaric chamber was wheeled through the hallways of Hudson Valley Hospital Center Friday afternoon to its new home in the hospital’s Wound Care Institute. The hyperbaric chamber is the third of its kind at the hospital, meeting a growing demand for the oxygen-based therapy.
“The success of hyperbaric medicine in the treatment of non-healing wounds and other conditions means that more patients are seeking this service,’’ said Dr. Stephen Guthrie, M.D., Ph.D, director of the Institute for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine in a statement. ”As a result, the hospital has expanded our facilities and we have added a third hyperbaric chamber to better serve our patients.’’
The healing process of slow-healing wounds is accelerated by the hyperbaric chamber's oxygen-rich environment. The O2 dissolves in the body and promotes the growth of new cells.
Medline Plus, an arm of the National Institutes of Health says that hyperbaric chambers are available at “Some, but not very many, hospitals.” Hudson Valley is one of only four hospitals in New York, and the only in the region, to be accredited by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.
“This is a growing area of medicine that is being used successfully to treat many conditions which have been unresponsive to other treatments,’’ Guthrie said in a statement.
More than 5 million Americans each year suffer from chronic non-healing wounds, according to the center. Wounds may be caused by diabetes, poor circulation, traumatic injury, radiation therapy and other causes.
According to Medline Plus, hyperbaric chambers can be used to treat many different sicknesses and diseases. Carbon monoxide poisoning, embolisms, bone infections and certain types of viral infections can be treated in the chambers. Hyperbaric chambers may be known to some as a treatment for decompression sickness, also known as “the bends,” a disease known to afflict divers who ascend too quickly to the surface.
According to officials at HVHC, some insurance plans now cover hyperbaric chamber treatment for traumatic brain injuries, viral illness, heart attack and stroke.
Like many emerging patient-centric approaches to medicine, the hyperbaric chambers at HVHC allow patients to watch TV and listen to music while they are treated.