Sky Ridge Medical Center’s newest addition will help speed up recovery for people suffering from painful, otherwise slow-to-heal wounds.
The Lone Tree hospital opened its Advanced Wound Care Center Feb. 19, which includes a suite with two hyperbaric oxygen chambers. The chambers are a new addition to Sky Ridge.
Blanketed patients lie in the clear, cylindrical chamber for 1.5 to 2 hours per treatment, breathing 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized space. The combination enriches the blood’s oxygen concentration 10 to 15 times its normal level, stimulating the growth of new blood cells.
The “high-oxygen environment really speeds the healing process,” said Adam George, director of wound care services at Sky Ridge.
Depending on the reason for treatment, patients will undergo 20 to 60 daily visits as part of an overall treatment plan.
“This is added therapy to help the patient in their healing process,” said technician Phil Treadway, who oversees the sessions.
Wounds also are cleaned and debrided — a process of removing dead tissue from a wound — to further accelerate healing.
The suite is equipped with a television for each chamber, so patients can watch TV or movies, or sleep during the procedures. They also can speak with the technician from inside the chamber.
Between the two chambers, which cost about $150,000 each, Sky Ridge can treat about eight patients daily.
Growing community need for the therapy prompted the expansion of the wound care center, Sky Ridge officials said. Englewood’s Swedish Medical Center, Medical Center of Aurora, Denver’s Presbyterian St. Luke’s and Parker Adventist Hospital all offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy as well.
Initially used to treat divers suffering from decompression sickness, technicians of hyperbaric oxygen therapy noticed those divers who also had cuts healed more rapidly than those who hadn’t undergone the therapy.
Hospitals now use the therapy to treat problematic wounds, counteracting the effects of radiation, skin grafts and diabetic ulcers. Skin disorders stemming from poor circulation, common among the elderly, also are prime candidates for the treatment.
Some sports teams use the chambers to hasten an injured player’s return to the game.
Most famously, late pop music star Michael Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber, reportedly because he thought it would slow aging and sharpen his cognitive ability.