Amputation avoided thanks to hyperbaric oxygen chamber -

Amputation avoided thanks to hyperbaric oxygen chamber

Hard-to-heal wounds are now being restored to health, all by a patient breathing in and breathing out.

Mary Robertson is about to go "diving."

This 62-year-old retired school teacher is steadily dropping below sea level, breathing in pure oxygen to heal the physical effects of a rare autoimmune disorder.

"My hands get very cold and I lose blood flow to my fingers and they turn white and blue and almost sting, like frostbite," she said.

A cold room, even stress, can stop the blood flow to Mary's fingertips.

Prior to undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Mary's fingertips were covered with ulcers and an infection reached into her bones - nearly forcing amputations. 

"The doctor just said, 'If this continues and we can't heal them, then my job will be to amputate your fingertips,'" she explained.

Mary's fingertip salvation has come thanks to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, something Dr. Abhishek Agarwal uses for difficult wounds.

"Diabetic ulcers, veinous ulcers, arterial ulcers, crush injuries," he said. "These are the wounds that typically take a long time to heal."

Inside the chamber, Mary breathes in 100-percent pure oxygen at an atmospheric pressure about two times what we are typically used to.  It is that combination that gets more oxygen in the bloodstream, leading to the best results. 

"It dissolves more oxygen within the blood and that oxygen, when it reaches the wound area, which is hypoxic, gives a lot of oxygen to that non-healing tissue," said Dr. Agarwal.

Mary has been undergoing treatments almost every day for a month now in 90-minute sessions. Her healing is noticeable. 

"I appreciate once again just being able to tie my shoes, to put on makeup. I have two granddaughters in town -- just to turn the pages of a book," she said.

Those are the little things that Mary looks forward to enjoying again, once her fingertips are back in tip-top shape.

Patients undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy are typically prescribed between 30 and 40 treatments, five days a week, and they last anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Friday, August 15 2014 12:22 PM EDT2014-08-15 16:22:58 GMT
    Fugitive Fridays tracks down Central Virginia's most wanted. Take a look at the photos and see if you can help police track down these suspects.
    Fugitive Friday helps track down Central Virginia's Most Wanted.
  • Six deadly foods for dogs

    Six deadly foods for dogs

    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. One woman found that out the hard way when her dog ate a bunch of grapes! Turns out, that's one of the most dangerous foods
    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. But these common snacks could be fatal for Fido.
  • Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Parents desperate to get their troubled sleepers to bed are turning to synthetic melatonin, which is a supplement sold over the counter. But expert warn it could have adverse effects on child development.
    Many adults turn to sleep aids like melatonin, but now more parents are giving them to their kids, too. We talked to physicians to see what they had to say about how it could affect your child's development.
Powered by WorldNow