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Provena St. Mary’s Introduces Only Hospital-Based Wound Healing Center in the Kankakee Area

For most people, a cut on the foot is nothing that some antiseptic ointment and a bandage can't fix. But, for those who have diabetes, a circulatory problem, or a compromised immune system, that cut can become a non-healing wound and a serious health problem.

Now, there's help at Provena St. Mary's Hospital in Kankakee - hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). During HBOT, patients rest in a specialized treatment chamber and breathe 100 percent oxygen at pressures greater than normal atmospheric (sea level) pressure. This environment stimulates the growth of new tissue and maximizes the ability of white blood cells to fight infection. Importantly, it speeds the healing process.

"Hyperbaric medicine can be used to treat a number of conditions, such as diabetic foot ulcers, radiation recovery, skin graft preparation and preservation, bone infections, car crash injuries, and poor circulation," explains Amy Golyshko, R.N., Advanced Practice Nurse, Provena St. Mary's Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine.

She continues, "HBOT has the potential to heal a chronic long-term wound in as little as 30 to 100 days with virtually no side effects and no pain."

A non-healing or chronic wound is one that shows little or no improvement after four weeks or does not heal completely in eight weeks. Such a wound poses the risk of infection, which can lead to more serious conditions, including the loss of a limb. Some of the most common areas for non-healing wounds are the feet, ankles, heels, and calves (lower extremities).

Being in a hyperbaric chamber is similar to the pressure changes that a person feels when flying in an airplane. In the chamber, patients have full 360-degree vision and access to two-way microphones and speakers. They can listen to music, watch television, read, or even take a nap.

Each session or "dive" generally lasts two hours (depending on the patient's diagnosis, condition, and response to therapy). At the end of treatment, the patient is gradually decompressed to normal pressure before leaving the chamber.

"Normally, we breathe approximately 20 percent oxygen and 80 percent nitrogen. With HBOT, the entire body is immersed in 100 percent oxygen," Golyshko says. "This increased pressure dissolves oxygen in the blood plasma and in all body cells, tissues, and fluids at up to about 10 times normal concentration."

Currently, Provena St. Mary's Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine has two monoplace chambers that accommodate one person per chamber. Each one is covered in acrylic glass and can comfortably hold a person up to 6 feet 3 inches tall and nearly 500 pounds.

"During treatment, each chamber is monitored by a physician and a technician who are specially trained in wound care and hyperbaric medicine and treatment," Golyshko notes.

Candidates for HBOT are accepted on a referral basis from their physicians. Typically, treatments are given once per day, five days per week (with the exception of emergencies). Transportation can be arranged for outpatients who do not have a means of travel to the hospital for consultation or treatment.

Even though hyperbaric medicine was introduced in the 1930s, it is only lately that it has begun to gain recognition for treatment of chronic degenerative health problems and many other disorders. "Wherever blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs is reduced, function and healing can potentially be aided with HBOT. For example, when the brain is injured by stroke, cerebral palsy, or trauma, HBOT could wake up and restore function to its stunned parts," Golyshko says.

HBOT is just one component of the comprehensive wound care program that is offered at the Provena St. Mary's Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine. To learn more, call (815) 937-2273.


Conditions That Respond to HBOT

  • Chronic non-healing wounds are those that fail to respond to standard medical/surgical treatment and management. These wounds are usually present in patients who have multiple local and systemic factors that inhibit tissue repair.
  • Diabetic wounds
  • Vascular insufficiency ulcers
  • Non-healing traumatic wounds
  • Compromised amputation sites
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation
  • Soft tissue radiation injuries
  • Gas gangrene
  • Refractory osteomyelitis (a bone infection that has not responded to appropriate treatment)
  • Preservation of damaged or injured tissue
  • Thermal burns
  • Decompression sicknes

HBOT: What It Does

  • Increases oxygen concentration in all body tissues
  • Stimulate the growth of new blood vessels
  • Improves blood flow to compromised organs
  • Stimulates an increase in the production of antioxidants
  • Aids in the treatment of infection


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