June marks the beginning of Wound Care Awareness Month. When chronic wounds don’t heal, a treatment known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy can stimulate healing. The treatment can help diabetic patients with foot ulcers, people with bone infections that aren’t responding to antibiotics or other treatment, and those with soft tissue injury caused by radiation. The Wound Care Center at Montefiore Nyack Hospital has a hyperbaric treatment suite complete with two new state-of-the-art hyperbaric chambers.
“As the prevalence of chronic wounds is on the rise, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, used alongside advanced wound care treatment, has made a tremendous impact on our ability as healthcare providers to aggressively treat and heal our patients, getting them back on their feet as soon as possible,” says Lawrence Simon, MD, surgeon at Montefiore Nyack Hospital and Highland Medical, P.C., Highland Surgical Associates.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen to wounds, allowing them to heal from the inside. A person receiving the therapy lies on a bed encased in a large see-through plastic shell, as they are surrounded by 100% oxygen at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. In the chamber, a person’s lungs can gather more oxygen than would be possible breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. The blood carries this oxygen throughout the body, which helps fight bacteria and stimulates the release of substances called growth factors and stem cells. This leads to the growth of new blood vessels in the wound and promotes healing.
At the patient’s first visit to The Wound Care Center, the doctor takes a complete medical history and conducts a physical. Our medical staff designs a wound care plan with the patient, taking advantage of our multidisciplinary team that includes podiatrists and surgeons. Patients generally receive 30 treatments, which are given daily Monday to Friday. Each treatment includes about 90 minutes in the chamber, plus an additional 30 minutes of preparation time. Patients are examined weekly to see how their wound is healing. In two to three weeks, our team can usually see if the patient is responding to treatment.
At the weekly visit, the patient’s wound is cleaned out, and our clinical staff addresses the patient’s medical issues related to the wound. For patients with diabetes, we make sure their blood sugar levels are optimized. The Wound Care Center works with a patient’s primary care doctor and other specialists to make sure his/her other medical conditions are being addressed.
The Wound Care Center also offers other wound treatments, which can be used in conjunction with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These include:
- Negative pressure wound therapy, a medical procedure in which a vacuum dressing is used to enhance and promote wound healing in acute, chronic and burn wounds. The therapy involves using a sealed wound dressing attached to a pump to create a negative pressure environment in the wound. The treatment promotes the growth of new blood vessels and healthy tissue.
- Bioengineered skin grafts, or the use of synthetic skin, is used to jump-start the body when a wound won’t heal.
The Wound Care Center at Montefiore Nyack Hospital is a member of the Healogics™ network, the nation’s leader in wound care services which serves more than 200,000 patients annually.
For more information and to make an appointment, contact 845-348-7600.