Q: How long is a treatment?
This can vary depending on the nature of the problem. Typically, however, a treatment involves 90 minutes at the prescribed treatment pressure plus the time required to pressurize and depressurize the chamber to a maximum of 120 minutes. The pressurization and depressurization phases are carried out slowly in order to minimize the risk of barotitis and optimize patient comfort.
Q: How do I explain what hyperbaric oxygen therapy is?
We supply a guidance booklet to each patient attending our clinic. This contains an explanation of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and what they will experience during treatment. It is written in a way that we find most patients readily comprehend. The objective of this booklet is to allay the natural fear anybody has of something they do not understand. It also contains contact and scheduling information and a list of Do's and Don'ts that are necessary safety precautions we require all patients to adhere to. We ask that you impress upon your patient the importance of reading that booklet and adhering to the simple rules.
Q: Will my patient's dressings need to be removed before each treatment?
No. Unless they are scheduled to be changed there is no need to disturb dressings because hyperbaric oxygen therapy delivers the oxygen systemically. There is no additional benefit in exposing the wound to topical oxygen.
Q: Is it possible my patients could get the "bends" as a result of treatment?
No. This is not possible because your patient will be breathing 100% oxygen almost exclusively during the treatment. A scuba-diver may suffer decompression sickness, otherwise known as the "bends," because nitrogen in their breathing air diffuses into the tissues during the time they are underwater hence under pressure. If they return to atmospheric pressure (ascend) too quickly, the nitrogen diffusing out of the tissues and entering their bloodstream as bubbles can overwhelm the body's ability to deal with it; this may result in the "bends." By contrast, because your patient will be breathing 100% oxygen, the level of nitrogen in their body will be reducing continuously throughout the period they are in the hyperbaric chamber. This means treatment can be stopped at any time without risk of the "bends."
Q: How do you deal with boredom?
All of our chambers are equipped with individual audio-visual entertainment systems. The patient can listen to music, or watch TV or a movie. We carry a large selection of audio visual material specifically for in-chamber entertainment, or patients can bring their own. Often we find that once patients get over their initial concerns about entering the chamber they prefer to take the opportunity to simply rest and relax. One situation that might require planning is the fact that many video movies last a little longer than the treatment.
Q: Can they eat before they come?
Yes, we like all patients to eat at least a snack e.g. a sandwich or candy bar 60 -90 minutes before they come in for the daily treatment. This is particularly important for diabetic patients who are at increased risk of oxygen seizure, if their blood sugar is low. We want their blood sugar to be 120mg/dl or a little higher at the start of each treatment. All diabetic patients will get a Fingerstick check before and after treatment as part of our program to monitor their blood sugar. Patients whose blood sugar is below 120mg/dl will be given a snack and treatment will be delayed for 30-minutes or so to allow it to come up. Persistent “offenders” will be considered non-compliant and risk being dropped from the program.
Copyright Life Support Technologies Group Inc, Sept 2012