Crestwood unveils new hyperbaric chambers

The chamber helps infuse the body with wound-healing oxygen.
The chamber helps infuse the body with wound-healing oxygen.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Our body's immune system has the task of healing when accidents occur, but sometimes it needs help - such as with antibiotics. When those don't work, doctors take another approach.

Renae McCarley is so comfortable during her treatment, she sleeps during most of the two-hour session. "I've had 2 toes amputated back in November, and there's an open wound, still. I'm a diabetic and this was our last resort... with the only other option amputation and we don't want that."

There are two hyperbaric chambers at Crestwood Medical Center. They are used to treat 15 different types of ailments.

Dr. Scott Parker is the medical director and wound care specialist. "The hyperbaric chamber allows us to administer extra oxygen for wounds that won't heal," he explained.

R.N. Lisa Smith is the program director, who said there are several uses. "Patients that have had cancer and had radiation treatments  have scar tissue. It's called necrosis. So it may be soft tissue. It may be men that have had prostate cancer," she said.

The wound care center opened Jan. 6 and specializes in patients like Renae, whose wounds have not closed in 30 days.

"The hyperbaric oxygen is pressurized oxygen. So what it does is forces the oxygen into the cells of the blood instead of the hemoglobin carrying the oxygen... now the plasma and everything else can carry the oxygen as well," said Smith.

She said this infuses the body with healing oxygen and it leaves a bonus antibiotic effect.

"They're hoping by the time we get through - which I have three more weeks left of the sessions - after that, they are hoping by then it will be closed up and that there will be no skin graft or none of that," said McCarley.

Another option in the quest for healing.

Remember, when breaking news happens, we break it first online, by email, and by text. If you want to receive our breaking news alerts by text, pull out your phone right now and text NEWS to 44848. Message and data rates may apply. You can text STOP at any time to cancel your subscription, text HELP for more information, or call 877-571-0774 for support.

Copyright 2014 WAFF. All rights reserved.