Hyperbaric Chamber HealingSep 29, 2013 07:23PM ● By Jon D’Auria
When people plagued with debilitating conditions, disabilities and serious injuries run into a dead end at traditional medical practices, they often turn to alternative treatments that are uncommon in traditional Western medicine. Some of these treatments provide astonishing results that restore hope to the patients and aid them on their way to recovery.
One of these exciting new methods of healing lies in hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments. By simply sitting inside of a hyperbaric (higher that normal pressure) chamber and breathing 100 percent pure oxygen, patients experience breakthrough results by means of the pressurized environment that aids the body to heal itself. Henricks has been using this revolutionary treatment to heal patients at her Northwest Tucson office for nearly a decade.
“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has several healing mechanisms. One of the ways it promotes healing is by releasing stem cells from bone marrow. Stem cells then travel to where they need to be within the body to do their job,” explains Henricks. “Stem cells in the brain create glial tissue, or astrocytes, which are responsible for helping networking and re-networking in the brain.” She says that that hyperbaric oxygen therapy produces extra oxygen that interacts with DNA at the molecular level to turn on genes that promote healing and growth hormones that are essential to recovery.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments have been found to help treat serious conditions including, memory disorders such as strokes, sleep disorders, ALS, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, back pain, cerebral palsy, Bell’s palsy, comas, vertigo, migraines, movement disorders, myasthenia gravis and many others.
“There are 13 indicated conditions that insurance will cover for this, but there is a broad range of other conditions that can be treated,” says Henricks. “It’s been used to even treat post-drowning patients with anoxic brain injury, and it really is a breakthrough in treating post-stroke patients. When somebody has a stroke, the area of the brain that’s been damaged is not restorable, but the area around that, called the ischemic penumbra, is the part of the brain that’s been injured but not totally lost, and the chamber can facilitate recovery in that area. Lyme disease, spinal chord injuries and nerve problems have all been treated with this method, as well.”
The state-of-the-art hyperbaric chamber at Northstar can easily seat six patients at a time and contains a flat screen television with satellite service to entertain patients as they go through the hour-long sessions. Most treatments require patients to receive 40 treatments in total, which are typically scheduled twice daily for the first 10 days, and then after a week off, on a once-a-day basis. Patients feel no drastic differences inside the chamber and experience a slight sensation that is similar to traveling in an airplane.
“When you’re in the hyperbaric chamber, we have you wear a mask to breathe 100 percent oxygen, so the increased pressure pushes the oxygen across the membrane to the lungs and you hyper-oxygenate the blood,” says Henricks. “Ninety-eight-point-five percent of the oxygen that we carry as humans is attached to the hemoglobin molecule and 1.5 percent is just floating free in the plasma (the fluid part of blood). So when you push more oxygen across that membrane, then you have much more free-floating oxygen in the blood. Your blood circulates to injured areas of the body, and that’s why this therapy is a whole-body healing tool.”
The results of these treatments have been truly inspiring for Henricks, who has observed remarkable strides in patients that had tried all other forms of medicine for their recovery with minimal results. “I’ve treated several patients with acute multiple sclerosis who have improved within the first 20 treatments who started out with double vision, unsteady gait, and not being able to drive, to having all of those issues restored,” says Henricks. “One patient was a 47-year-old man who had several strokes and could not talk, and his right arm was constantly flexed against him, and his gait was abnormal even two years after his strokes. We gave him 40 treatments and when he came back afterwards, his arm was at his side, he was walking normally and he was able to say basic words to convey basic needs. No other treatment has ever caused that kind of improvement.”
Henricks was first introduced to hyperbaric oxygen healing in 2003, when she attended medical meetings with European doctors that expressed the success they had with such chambers. After doing research on her own, she decided to embark on the practice herself, so that she could help her patients move further toward healing instead reaching a point of frustration where progress would end.
“Even while I was telling people that they have no other options, I knew there had to be more out there. You should never expect anyone to just give up. As a doctor, you shouldn’t just get your medical education and then go on to defend that knowledge for the rest of your life. You should be looking for more answers and more ways to heal people who need it. We need to hunt down solutions for problems that have never been solved and keep aspiring to find answers that can change the lives of the people who depend on us.”
Northstar HBOT is located at 7598 N. La Cholla Blvd. For more information, call 520-229-2122 or visit NorthstarHBOT.com.