Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy giving hope to diabetics facing amputation
SAN ANTONIO -- For some people living with diabetes they may have no other choice than amputation.
However, some diabetics are turning to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to save their limbs.
"I was in a lot of pain, and I was ready to give up, " said Maria Torres. Torres has been suffering from Type 2 diabetes from more than two decades.
She says things went from bad to worse. "The first group of doctors that were working on my left wanted to do an amputation, " added Torres.
She says a second opinion truly changed her life. "I think God for this, and answering my prayers."
For the last several months Torres has been undergoing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Nix Health Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center located downtown.
She receives treatment inside a hyperbaric chamber five days a week. "We're the largest, largest for civilians in San Antonio. We're using oxygen as medicine, " said Dr. Marshall Packard, Director of Nix Health Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center
Torres will go into the chamber filled with high pressurized oxygen for about 90 minutes.
"That 100 percent oxygen is given at twice the atmospheric pressure so you're getting around ten times the dose of oxygen that you and I are getting right now, " added Packard.
Packard went on to explain the entire body is under pressure, the equivalent of being 33 feet under water, that's why the process is sometimes referred to as a dive.
"So I just take a nap for about an hour and a half and then lights go on, and it's time to get out, " said Torres.
Packard says in many cases you can see how the integrity of the skin changes. Torres says her skin is not only healing, but she's going to be able to keep her left leg, " that God for that."
Jesse Castro, who is also diabetic and had several toes amputated in the past also turned to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Castro says the oxygen treatment saved his foot.
"Not infections anymore, and it's almost healed up, " said Castro.
It's not only about using oxygen as medicine, but treating the wounds to make sure they heal.
"Once the circulation has been restored then we take these patients to the operating room and do reconstructive surgery, that is the closure of a wound either by primary closure or applying a skin graph, " said Dr. Enrique Almaguer, a plastic surgeon who also practices at Nix Health.
Packard says this type of treatment may not be for everyone, but if you are diabetic and possibly facing an amputation this might be an option.
The treatment is covered by most insurance.