Oxygen is not only required to generate the energy needed for cell division and protein synthesis. It’s been found that it can also stimulate the production of various cellular mediators necessary for healing. Oxygen isn’t stored, so its concentration in tissues depends on several factors: the lung/gas exchange, cardiac output, tissue perfusion, capillary density, blood oxygen content, and tissue oxygen consumption. Hyperbaric therapy is a tool that speeds up this healing process.
A study published in 2014 by the Medical Society of Santiago de Chile, showed that the use of hyperbaric oxygen is useful and safe on the treatment of acute and chronic wounds. The treatment in hyperbaric chambers increases blood oxygen pressure, benefiting re-oxygenation of wounds, formation of new blood vessels, proliferation of fibroblasts, stem cell arrival to the affected area, collagen synthesis, and immune local response.
In comparison to normal pressure conditions, in a hyperbaric chamber, the concentration of oxygen dissolved in blood increases more than 12 times. Exposure to oxygen under these conditions not only increases arterial oxygenation and its diffusion unto tissues, but also increases the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen.
Formation of new blood vessels, which increases the number of fibroblasts and collagen deposition, is part of the healing process. Apart from that, hyperbaric oxygen is capable of enhancing the phagocytic, bactericidal function and chemotaxis of macrophages into the wound. This process has special relevance in individuals when their immune system is compromised, such as in patients with diabetics, congenital or acquired immunodeficiency.
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