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Hyperbaric Chamber FAQs

FAQs

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBO, is a medical treatment in which a patient breathes 100% oxygen while under pressure in a hyperbaric chamber.

What is the Purpose of breathing oxygen under pressure?

The purpose of breathing 100% oxygen under pressure is to dissolve more oxygen in your body's blood. This increased level of oxygen is then distributed throughout your entire body.

Who requires extra oxygen?

There is no benefit in increasing the level of oxygen in the body for normal, healthy individuals. However, there are certain medical conditions that benefit from increased levels of oxygen.

What conditions benefit from HBO treatments?

  • A diabetic person with a wound that is slow to heal, or is simply not healing
  • Anyone with a wound that has shown no improvement in four weeks
  • Certain infections of the bone and skin
  • Someone with damaged tissue from radiation therapy
  • Someone with a skin graft that has a questionable blood supply
  • Brown recluse spider bite

Do I have to go somewhere else for these treatments?

No, you'll come here to the Wound Healing Center for treatment. Your therapy will be supervised by a specially-trained physician and monitored by a technician each day.

How long do HBO treatments last?

On average, treatments last about two hours. This includes the time to compress and decompress the chamber coupled with ninety minutes at the prescribed treatment depth.

How many HBO treatments does a person require?

There is no magical number of HBO treatments because each person responds slightly differently. However, it is possible to estimate how many treatments you may require based on your problem. For example, the average number of treatments required to heal a patient with a problem wound is 20 to 40.

How many times a day will I receive treatment?

Typically, for most chronic problems, once a day, five days a week, is sufficient. However, patients with more acute problems can be treated up to twice a day, seven days a week.

Is HBO therapy covered by my insurance?

Medicare has approved coverage for HBO therapy for many types of chronic, non-healing wounds. Most private insurance companies follow Medicare's guidelines, as well. We will review your insurance plan with you before your therapy starts to make sure you know what your costs will be.

Are there any sensations associated with the HBO treatment?

The only sensation you will experience is during the compression phase of the treatment. The slowly increasing pressure will push on your eardrums. This is exactly the same feeling you would experience when landing in an airplane, diving to the bottom of a swimming pool, or descending from a tall building in an elevator. The hyperbaric staff will instruct you on the different methods of relieving this ear pressure.

Is the HBO treatment dangerous?

No, the hyperbaric treatment is very safe as long as all the safety precautions are followed. As a patient you are given a thorough orientation prior to your first treatment. Our staff will not only assure your safety, but also make your treatment comfortable and stress free.

What can I do during these treatments?

Each chamber is equipped with its own TV/VCR, so there is always an option of watching a movie during your treatment. Many patients simply use the time to catch up on some well-deserved rest and sleep the entire two hours.

Are there any bathroom facilities in the chamber?

No, however it is possible to take a bedpan or urinal in with you during your treatment. The staff will decompress the chamber any time you require to finish the treatment early.

Do patients suffer from claustrophobia?

Interestingly enough, most hyperbaric patients do not suffer from claustrophobia. This could be due to either the large size of the chamber or the fact that it is made out of a clear plastic. From inside the chamber, it is possible to see out in all directions. There is always an attendant in the room during your treatment. For those patients still feeling anxious about their treatment, the hyperbaric physician can prescribe medication that will relax you and make your treatment less stressful.

How can I communicate with the outside attendant?

The chamber is equipped with two-way communication. You can talk to the outside attendant at any time. The attendant can talk to you through the chamber microphone.

How do I find out if HBO is for me?

If you have a wound that hasn't healed in four weeks, consult the Wound Healing Center. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be an appropriate part of the treatment plan. A physician at the center will evaluate your wound and determine the best course of treatment.

Can someone stay with me during therapy?

To protect the privacy of our patients, family members may not remain with you during your treatment. A waiting room is provided for their comfort. A trained technician is always in the room during treatment and can communicate with you at any time.

What should I wear?

Since safety is our priority, we will provide you with clothing to wear during your treatment. Please do not wear any of the following items when you come to the center for HBO therapy:

  • Contact lenses
  • Makeup
  • Wigs or hair pieces
  • Nail polish
  • Skin lotions
  • Vaseline-based products
  • Perfume, cologne, or aftershave
  • Jewelry, including watches and earrings
  • Hair spray or oils

What should I bring with me?

If you have a movie you would like to share with other patients, please bring it with you. Otherwise, you don't need to bring anything. If you have diabetes, make sure you eat before your treatment begins. If your sinuses are congested or you feel ill, let the technician know so we can make you more comfortable.

11116 Medical Campus Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
301-790-8000
TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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