hyperbaric chamber webMany older adults find that simple cuts and bruises take much longer to heal than they did in the past. Even more problematic, some individuals have wounds that never heal completely. Compromised immune systems, decreased skin elasticity and less fat underlying the skin all contribute to increased wounds and slower healing time as we age, said Steven Bowers, DO, Network Medical Director, St. Luke’s Wound Management. Although it’s common for healing to take longer as we grow older, significantly slower-healing or non-healing wounds pose a serious threat to the health of the patient.

Not only can chronic wounds be very painful, they expose the individual to infection that can threaten a limb or even one’s life. Slow-, or non-healing wounds may also signal a serious health condition, such as an immune disorder or diabetes.“If you or a loved one has a wound that has not healed in a few weeks, it’s imperative to see your primary care physician or a wound care specialist,” he said. “Medicare and most insurance plans allow patients to self-refer to a wound specialist, meaning that they do not need a referral from their primary care doctor.” St. Luke’s Wound Management & Hyperbaric Medicine has six centers in Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh and Schuylkill Counties, Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey.

“To help patients heal faster and feel better sooner, wound management centers offer advanced wound care products and services, as well as professionals experienced in using them,” Dr. Bowers said. “In addition, five of our centers offer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), a highly effective, painless treatment to heal wounds and radiation complications that are not responding to other treatments.”

During the HBOT sessions, patients lie in a clear acrylic chamber filled with pressurized oxygen while they nap, watch TV or listen to music. The pressure, combined with pure oxygen, increases the concentration of oxygen in the blood stream, enhancing the body’s ability to heal itself.

“We see many patients, especially those in advanced years, who have had a chronic wound for months or even years,” Dr. Bowers said. “One of the most satisfying parts of my job as a physician is seeing these patients walk out of our centers with a completely healed wound after treatment.”

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