/ Modified oct 8, 2013 3:54 p.m.

Popularity of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Grows

TMC Wound Care Center has several single-person hyperbaric chambers to treat wounds related to diabetes radiation therapy.

Tucson Medical Center Wound Care Center has several single-person hyperbaric chambers. These chambers are used to treat wounds related to diabetes, osteomylitis - an infection of the bone- radiation therapy and peripheral vascular disease.

All of these uses have been tested in clinical trials and approved for use by groups, such as the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.

TMC vascular and trauma surgeon, Dr. Michael Lavor, said the therapy works so well, that he has seen even stagnant wounds start to heal.

"So you get a wound over an area where you have a bone, say one of the bone joint areas of the foot, and the hyperbaric will help that heal much quicker," Lavor said.

Across town from TMC, at Northstar Hyperbaric, Dr. Carol Hendricks, a neurologist specialist, uses a multiple person chamber for off-label uses. However, these are methods that have not been approved by the FDA. But Hendricks said she is having success treating conditions, such as PTSD, autism, Parkinson's, cerebral palsy and others.

While such uses are not 'approved' in the conventional sense, she said they are working for her patients.

"Patients have had improvement in recovery that no one would have expected given their disease state," Hendricks said.

Since the science is still lacking, Lavor suggested caution when thinking about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT. Hendricks counters, and said one does not need clinical trials and peer reviewed journal articles to know that her patients are getting better.

The NFL and the military have both tested HBOT to treat traumatic brain injury. Professional football players have been known to purchase personal, soft-sided chambers to treat sport's related injuries. Also, the scuba diving world has used hyperbaric chambers to treat dive-related injuries since the 1940s.

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