What the hyperbaric chamber is, how it can heal wounds

HOUSTON – Patients with burns, diabetic wounds, and radiation wounds can have complications with healing.

All of those types of injuries are ones doctors at Clear Lake Regional Hospital say should try their hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

There's a reason the hyperbaric chamber inside the Clear Lake Regional Wound Treatment Center looks like a submarine. It's simulating the same pressure felt by scuba divers as if patients are actually going down below the water

That pressure, doctors say, has healing powers.

Eric Brown says patients breathe almost 100 percent oxygen inside the pressurized chamber.

That increase in pressure helps the blood vessels in the body deliver that super-oxygenated blood to the tissues. In return, that aids in the healing. It also decreases edema or swelling, fights infection and also aids in the formation of new blood vessels.

Brown says it also fights infection and helps carry antibiotics to hard-to-reach body parts like bones.

Oto Estrada is one of the patients.

He didn't know he had diabetes until last year when he fell and injured his foot. When the wound never healed, a blood test revealed diabetes and a bad infection.

After many doctor visits and surgery on his foot, nothing was alleviating a problem or the pain.

His wound could have cost him his foot, but luckily Estrada found relief in the chamber.

"It's healed, I mean it's completely healed," Estrada said.

Regular visits inside the chamber for close to two hours at a time finally fixed his foot and gave him some unexpected benefits.

"I would love to go in there because I knew I was going to have my little chiropractic session," Estrada said. "I can go in there and twist around and just popped my neck and shoulders. It felt really good"

He and Brown agree, without this treatment Estrada probably would have been on the path to an amputation.

Aside from the obvious reasons that nobody wants to amputate a limb, your lifespan declines after an amputation.

Estrada says he has United Healthcare Insurance, and they did cover the treatment