What to expect from the first appointment
Patients are mostly referred by their primary care physician, and the program operates by appointment. Patients can also self-refer to the Wound Center. A first appointment to the Wound Care Center will include undergoing a thorough diagnostic examination to identify the type of wound you have and the underlying problems causing the wound. The initial appointment consists of a full assessment to determine the etiology of the wound, the appropriate classification and size of the wound, the overall health status of the patient, and the patient’s ability to comply with needed therapies.
Based on the evaluation, a customized treatment plan is developed to optimize the therapies best suited to address the patient’s needs. Wound size and depth are documented at the initial visit, and again at each subsequent visit. Some of the diagnostic modalities which may be used include:
- Laboratory evaluation
- Radiology (including MRI)
- Transcutaneous oxygen testing
- Vascular studies, electrocardiogram
After this determination, a program specifically tailored to your needs will be initiated based on the most effective treatment options. An interdisciplinary approach will be used to provide the maximum healing possible.
Specialized wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy are administered on an outpatient basis.
Your specialized wound care
Once a treatment plan has been initiated, you will visit the Center on a regular basis for specialized treatments and documentation of the progress of your healing. You will also be fully instructed on how to do your own wound care at home between visits, as well as how to protect your wound from further injury. It is very important to remember that you are the most important part of your healing process. Keeping appointments and following directions are critical to attaining a positive healing outcome. The Center employs the most technologically advanced wound care therapy, including debridement, topical wound therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, growth-factor therapy, tissue therapy, dressing selection, special shoes, and patient education. When wounds persist, a specialized and comprehensive approach is required for healing.
Preparing for your treatments
After an initial consultation and examination at the center, you will receive complete instructions regarding your treatment.
What is hyperbaric treatment
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a safe and evidence-based treatment proven to speed the healing process in certain types of wounds. In fact, many patients find it relaxing! The clear chambers are equipped with televisions and comfortable bedding, so patients are free watch their favorite television shows or a movie, or even sleep. During the treatments, the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen inside a pressurized chamber, quickly increasing the concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream, where it is delivered to a patient’s wound site for faster healing. Essentially, HBOT therapy helps heal the wound from the inside out. A typical course of treatment involves the patient spending about 90 minutes a day in the chamber five days per week over a four-to-six-week period.
This therapy can help reduce swelling, fight infection, and build new blood vessels, ultimately producing healthy tissue. It is also effective in fighting certain types of infections, improving circulation, in stimulating growth of new blood vessels, and in treating crush injuries, osteomyelitis, compromised skin grafts and flaps, brown recluse spider bites, and diabetic wounds of the lower extremities.
Medicare and most healthcare plans reimburse for hyperbaric oxygen therapy for “currently accepted indications.” Our courteous and professional staff is available to assist you with all of your personal insurance issues.
Preparing for your hyperbaric treatment
In the case of prescribed hyperbaric oxygen therapy: for safety reasons there are certain items not allowed inside the chambers. Please do not wear or bring the following into the chamber during your treatment:
- Make-up, perfume, aftershave
- Flammable materials
- Wigs/hairpieces, hairspray, and hair oils
- Hearing aids
- Alcohol or petroleum-based products
- Metallic items (such as jewelry, watches, and coins)
- Ask your hyperbaric chamber technician about contact lens use
Note: You should also refrain from smoking or the use of any tobacco products during the entire course of therapy. Tobacco use will prolong or even prevent healing of a wound site due to its effect on the blood vessels in your body. Before starting your treatment session, you will change into a 100% cotton garment provided by the Center. For safety reasons, no other clothing may be worn inside the chamber.
What to expect during hyperbaric treatment
Once you are comfortably positioned inside the chamber, the pressure will gradually increase and the temperature will temporarily rise. When the desired pressure is achieved, the temperature will be adjusted to your comfort. You may experience fullness in your ears as a result of the increased pressure. The technician will instruct you in ways to help clear the pressure and relieve any discomfort. Most treatment sessions in the chamber last approximately one-and-a-half hours. When the treatment is completed, the chamber is restored to normal pressure and the interior of the chamber will become cooler.
If you are sick or on medication
If you have a cold or cough, the flu, sore throat, chills, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, inform the staff at the Center before your treatments begin. Also, alert the staff to any medications you are taking, or changes in medication during the course of your treatment. If you are diabetic, please eat properly and continue to take your prescribed medication to control your blood sugar level. (Note: your blood sugar level will also be checked during each visit to the Center.)
Possible side effects of hyperbaric medicine
You may experience temporary vision changes which should return to normal within a few weeks after your therapy is completed. Our physicians recommend that you not change the prescription of your eyewear during the course of your therapy. Some patients experience fatigue during treatment. This is completely normal.