Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Help Some Diabetics - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Help Some Diabetics

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A simple cut on the foot of a diabetic can eventually have dramatic consequences resulting in a sore that takes many months to heal, or that may even result in amputation. But for some, technology has found a way to boost the body's healing capabilities.

In this week's Dealing With Diabetes report, the Eye on Health team takes a look at the hyperbaric chamber.

Carrie Manis said, "I was always a barefoot girl. So I've had to learn to have shoes on all the time. But the possible complications are scary."

Las Vegas resident Carrie Manis has been fighting a single diabetic wound on the bottom of her foot for nearly a year now.

"I've talked to people who've had the most minor problem with something on their foot and then lost a leg as a result," she said.

Part of Manis' therapy has been the use of this hyperbaric oxygen chamber at Valley Hospital.

The one-ton tubular chamber surrounds patients with 100-percent oxygen at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure.

An often-used analogy is scuba diving. The increased oxygen supply helps in healing.

Dr. Vasana Cheanvechai said, "What we would like to see is a progression of the healing of the wound. And with the hyperbaric therapy, we often get a lot of progression."

Wound care director and vascular surgeon, Vasana Cheanvechai says the hyperbaric chamber is for patients who've exhausted other treatment options in getting their sores to heal. But not everyone would be a candidate for the chamber, including those who are highly claustrophobic, have lung ailments or have poor circulation in their legs.

Dr. Cheanvechai continued, "If they haven't had an evaluation for their blood circulation, they need to have that first. If that is the problem, then that needs to be treated first before they go into the chamber."

While technology for treating diabetic wounds has improved, an ounce of prevention is still worth its weight in gold.

"Diabetics should never go barefoot. They should always wear socks or shoes," Dr. Vasana Cheanvechai recommends.

For patients using the hyperbaric chamber, there are typically 20 treatments, lasting about two hours each.

E-mail your comments to Anchor Paula Francis.

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