Credit: 13 OYS
Corewell Health’s hyperbaric oxygen chamber can treat up to twelve patients at a time. It’s one of the largest chambers in the region.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment many people may not be aware is available to treat numerous ailments. It can aid with radiation injuries, carbon monoxide poisoning, diabetes and more.
This month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared May Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Awareness Month.
As the month comes to an end, 13 ON YOUR SIDE visited Corewell Health’s hyperbaric oxygen chamber. It is one of the largest in the region, able to treat up to 12 patients at a time.
“What that does is it pushes a lot more oxygen into your body,” said Dr. Drue Orwig, section chief of wound and hyperbaric medicine at Corewell Health, “And helps to, in turn, push more oxygen down to areas that might need it, stimulates blood vessel growth, helps to fight off infection.”
Dr. Orwig said they use it a lot in an emergency situation for carbon monoxide poisonings. With the large chamber, it could fit an entire family affected by the chemical.
“We also use it a lot for diabetics,” said Orwig, “Because they have problems with blood flow down to the tiny capillaries. And that helps to increase the oxygen and blood flow down to those small areas that might have problems like a wound or something.”
Bob Sokorai has radiation cystitis, causing bladder bleeding. His urologist suggested hyperbaric oxygen therapy to relieve that bleeding and blood clots.
“I was floored at the time that they did that,” said Sokorai.
However, he spent about three months doing the hyperbaric therapy, five times a week.
“My bleeding stopped,” said Sokorai, “I just had my physical with my urologist and things are going good. Go back to normal and active life, back into golf.”
Sessions are typically two hours. Once inside the chamber, air is pushed in and the pressure is increased.
“And then once you’re at pressure,” said Orwig, “we put on a oxygen mask, and then really just kind of hang out after that and watch a movie, take a nap and let the oxygen do its work.”
Sokorai said the first five minutes feel like “ear popping, just like being on an airplane, like everybody swallows or tries to chew gum.”