Sun, Sandals, Shades and Surf for Treatment of Foot Wounds!

Imagine yourself in the most beautiful tropical paradise, enjoying the beach, surf and sun. You immerse yourself in the warm ocean water and dive down to discover the underwater paradise with its variety or colorful creatures and life forms. What if I told you that this was one of the best treatments for non-healing wounds? No, not a real scuba adventure, but a scientifically engineered artificial “dive”. Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) therapy is one of the most effective treatments we use in Podiatry today for stubborn, chronic non-healing diabetic or other types of wounds.

HBOT is placing the body in an oxygen rich environment, similar to that undergone by divers, to maximize the body’s ability to transfer oxygen to the tissue. Under normal atmospheric pressure (1atm), hemoglobin (found in the red blood cells) carries oxygen to the cells of organs, muscles and skin. Hemoglobin has a certain capacity that it can not exceed. However, the blood plasma (usually only carrying a minimal amount of oxygen at 1atm) can latch on more oxygen to carry to the body’s cells when placed under more pressure.

These “dives” take place in special chambers that can facilitate these pressurized environments. These can be as simple as a portable, one-man, plastic, “tent-like” chamber (see Seinfeld’s Bubble Boyepisode) or a large 8-10 person room, with lavish theater seating and sound. Patients are usually in the environment for about 1 hour and depending on the reason for treatment can undergo as many as 20-40 treatments.

In Podiatry, we frequently send patients to HBOT for chronic, non-healing wounds. In many cases, wounds (be they diabetic or others) lack the sufficient blood supply to heal in a timely manner. HBOT does not necessarily increase the flow of blood to the extremity but increases the amount of oxygen (vital to healing) the blood carries. HBOT is also indicated for decompression illness, gas emboli, carbon monoxide poisoning, crush injuries, and more. There are reported applications in autism, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.

Much like diving, HBOT must undergo a slow decompression to avoid the “Bends” (bubbling of gases in the blood). Pressure is slowly reduced in the chamber until back to around 1atm.

So, as you make vacation plans for this Spring Break, look for the nearest Hyperbaric Oxygen facility. You get the diving experience and you could save some cash! The only problem is…shoes and shirts are required!

For more information on HBOT or Non-Healing Wounds contact Dr. Jeff Bowman at 713-467-8886 or online at for more information on diabetic and any type of wound.

2013 Jeff Bowman., All Rights Reserved

Category: Diabetes

Tags: Diabetic Foot Care, Foot Problems, Foot Wounds, HBO Therapy, Non-Healing Wounds