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[IP] Hyperbaric Therapy

Hyperbaric Therapy
Treatment For Variety Of Ailments
Concentrated Oxygen
Some Patients Get Claustrophobic

(WCBS) (NEW YORK) May 29, 2001 2:28 pm
If you have a diabetes-related foot wound, you know how difficult it can be 
to heal. One treatment that patients might consider is hyperbaric therapy, 
which is generally the first line of defense for smoke inhalation or 
decompression sickness known as "the bends." It involves entering a small 
chamber and breathing in pressurized oxygen.

Carmella Montinor is thankful she can even walk on crutches. Three months 
ago, this 48-year-old correction officer slipped while crossing the street. 
An 18 wheeler ran over her right leg. When paramedics rushed her to 
Brookdale Medical Center, the prognosis was grim.

"When I first came in and they looked at my foot, they said 'amputation,'" 
she remembers, adding that she was in disbelief. Had it not been for Dr. 
Edward Golembe, may have lost her leg below the knee: he is one doctor who 
finds the chamber can be used for a variety of healing purposes.

"We had her in the chamber in under two hours," he says.

Patients must spend two hours in the tube-like chamber. They can watch 
television and often chew candy to relieve ear pressure, all while breathing 
in pressured air that is 200 percent oxygen, which has 10 times the amount 
found in normal air.

The oxygen acts like a drug, rushing to the scene of the wound to heal. It 
can also be used on cancer patients. Radiation therapy eradicated one 
sufferer's cancer, but caused tissue damage resulting in bladder bleeding.

"The very high pressure of oxygen that we use forces new blood vessels to 
grow in," says Dr. Golembe.

The hyperbaric chamber is generally considered safe but about three out of 
every 100 patients experience claustrophobia and some are forced to stop 
therapy. there's also a rare risk of seizures. Treatment time varies from 
one session to 50 or more so it can be time-consuming.

Despite a good success rate, Brookdale Medical Center is one of just a 
handful of chamber sites around New York City and the therapy has been slow 
to catch on. It is not a miracle worker: Carmella still had five toes 
amputated on one foot but between hyperbaric therapy and the attachment of 
live leeches to her wounds to help drain them, she still has her leg.

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