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Cancer patient says hyperbaric therapy helped him heal

Cancer patient says hyperbaric therapy helped him heal
Cancer patient says hyperbaric therapy helped him heal 02:52

MIAMI - Air is just air, right? Not exactly. The air we breathe is 21% oxygen, but the air in a hyperbaric chamber is 100 % pure oxygen and the pressure is kicked up a notch.

Bryan Mugione says hyperbaric oxygen therapy helped him heal.

"I felt rejuvenated myself. I had more energy," he said. "If you have a wound, a severe wound, and want it healed, I'd recommend it highly."

Mugione was diagnosed with cancer, but because of radiation and biopsies, he had painful injuries to his mouth and arm.

He recently completed his hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Broward Health Imperial Point, but showed us what it was like in the chamber.

"(It's) a little claustrophobic, but not bad," he explained. "There's a nice TV. Watch a show or a movie. You can take a nap. I took many naps. Just feels like there's a little bit of pressure."

Most of the patients at Broward Health Imperial Point use the chamber for diabetic injuries like ulcers or bone infections.

It can help with relieving pain, creating new blood vessels and reducing inflammation.

"In a normal situation you would breathe oxygen, it would be in the bloodstream carried by the blood cells to where it needs to go", said Andrea Tomczak, a Registered Nurse Wound Specialist and Certified Hyperbaric Nurse. "But when you receive 100% oxygen under pressure, the oxygen is carried by the entire bloodstream. It just overflows it and spills out into the tissue that is otherwise deemed unsalvageable."

Tomczak says most patients receive 30 to 40 treatments and the results can be long-lasting.

"There is some research that shows that even three years after you receive hyperbarics, the oxygen is still at a peak high when you finished the treatments," she explained.

Broward Health only uses this treatment for very specific diagnoses, but hyperbaric therapy centers are popping up across South Florida.

Some promise relief from chronic pain, migraines and fatigue, increased athletic recovery and even cosmetic rejuvenation.

"Hyperbaric is the future," said Ricardo Eusebio, the Senior Hyperbaric Technician and Safety Officer at Broward Health Imperial Point. "Hyperbaric can help a lot of other diagnoses, not only the 14 diagnoses we use here in the facility. But hyperbaric is a positive thing for the human body."

Some "off-label" conditions that could potentially benefit from HBOT include Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Traumatic Brain Injury.

There are some possible side effects.

The FDA says this treatment could cause ear and sinus pain, temporary vision changes, and very rarely, collapsed lung. 

And of course, the high oxygen concentration is a fire risk, which is why you should only seek treatment at an accredited facility.

The cost of treatment varies significantly depending on your insurance coverage and diagnosis, but expect to pay well over $100 per hour of treatment at some local therapy centers.  

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