BESSEMER, Ala. (CBS 42 Community) — Imagine living with a wound that just won’t heal.
“It negatively impacts people’s day to day lives, their acts of daily living,” explained Nathan Clark, the director of the Advanced Wound Center at Medical West.
Thousands of people suffer with this problem. Those who have diabetes or have undergone radiation treatment can have problems healing due to reduced blood supply and tissue damage.
“You’re not able to walk around. You’re in a lot of pain. If you can feel your feet, you’re in a lot of pain,” Clark described.
The Advanced Wound Center at Medical West is helping patients to heal and literally get back on their feet.
“One of the good things about coming here is if we catch it early enough, we try our basic wound care,” Clark said. “We can go several weeks trying to do that and several methods of cellular tissue substitutes, negative pressure like we just talked about. We can try all these advanced wound dressings and if that’s not working, then the next step is to go to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy.”
The hyperbaric machine looks pretty futuristic or like something you might see in a sci-fi movie, but really, it is the latest and greatest when it comes to wound-care technology.
“Hyperbarics is where we take one-hundred percent oxygen and apply it to a patient under pressure,” certified hyperbaric technologist Stacy Phillips explained. “It’s actually a pretty miraculous thing. It’s the only known thing in science to help re-build blood vessels. It’s called angiogenesis. So when your body gets 100% oxygen under pressure, not only is the oxygen attaching to your red blood vessels, it’s also being pushed all throughout your blood plasma and your tissue fluid. And this causes angiogenesis. It rebuilds the tiny capillary bases in your extremities. Most of our diabetics that come in here, they’ve lost their capillary beds. They have chronic ulcers that are not healing. They have chronic bone infections that aren’t healing. So when they get to that point, a lot of them, we can put in these chambers, give them this oxygen under pressure, and it helps rebuild that capillary base. It helps re-bring oxygen to those tissues. And not only is it bringing oxygen there, it helps to eradicate infection as well.”
Stacy Phillips says some people are worried they might feel claustrophobic during the treatment.
“You’re not closed in. You can move. You don’t have to be still. There’s ways that we can help keep you cool if you’re hot. So it’s a lot different than an MRI,” Phillips said.
Consult with your doctor if you have a wound that won’t heal or a condition you think might benefit from the treatments offered at the Advanced Wound Center. Most insurance will cover the treatments, but a referral is needed.
“It really does make a big difference in people’s lives. A lot of our patients didn’t know that there was this kind of specialty care out there,” Clark said.
“It’s just a wonderful chance to be a part of their life and to make a relationship with somebody and to walk through what is their valley and to help them get back to their mountain top,” Phillips reflected.
To find out more about the care offered at the Advanced Wound Center, call 205-481-8790.