At first glance, the room resembles a scene from a science fiction movie: People lying in cylindrical chambers breathing 100 percent oxygen to boost the body’s natural healing process and promote the growth of new blood vessels in areas ravaged by disease.
It’s actually a scene being replicated at hospitals across the country as more Americans turn to hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat serious conditions, such as chronic wounds, diabetic foot ulcers, radiation injury, bone infections, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, compromised skin grafts and more.
Nationwide, an estimated 1,800 to 2,000 hospitals offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy and about 500 to 700 non-hospital based programs offer the treatment, said John Peters, executive director of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Association.
Almost all hospital-based programs strictly treat “indications that have been scientifically validated” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and UHMS, he says. Non-hospital based hyperbaric oxygen programs are more likely to offer “off-label” treatments.
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