Doctors may be busy evaluating the clinical benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for autism, but it’s a proven cure for 13 conditions, including chronic wounds, varicose veins and gangrene.
“The air we breathe has only 21 per cent oxygen. If you inhale 100 per cent oxygen at high pressure, seven to 14 times more of it reaches the affected part and accelerates the healing process, including tissue repair,” said Dr Shoaib Padaria, an interventional cardiologist.
Dr Padaria helped set up the HBOT centre at Jaslok Hospital in November 2008. This was the first HBOT centre at a private hospital in Mumbai. The INS Ashwini Hospital, Navy Nagar, has been offering HBOT to defence personnel for more than six years. They also take some referred civilian cases.
The Jaslok centre has witnessed a huge rise in demand. “We used to have two to three patients per day when we started and now there are at least 10 patients daily,” said Dr Pragnya Mehta, who works at the centre.
The therapy has helped save the limbs of patients with gangrene and diabetic foot from amputation. “After about 10 sessions of oxygen therapy, new blood vessels are formed and eventually the limb is saved,” said Dr Padaria.
HBOT is expensive but in some cases it helps patients who can’t afford surgical procedures.
Take Vikhroli resident Khalil Khan’s case. The 35-year-old mason had developed gangrene, where tissues of a certain area die because of loss of blood supply, in his left leg 15 days ago. It caused excruciating pain and one toe had become black. But after five sessions of HBOT costing Rs 31,500, his leg was much better.
The other option was to go for angioplasty, where the doctor places a stent in the narrowed artery to increase blood flow. But this would have cost him about Rs 1 lakh.