Oklahoma’s population ranks in the top five in the U.S. for obesity and diabetes, and as a result, Oklahoma ranks as number one in amputation rates.
That is according to Dr. Elaine Soter. She is medical director of the Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s Wound Center at 530 SW 80 Street in Oklahoma City.
Soter said 50 percent of patients who undergo “non-trauma related” amputations related to diabetes or other medical conditions, don’t live another five years.
That is why she said she uses hyperbaric chambers to help save peoples’ lower limbs.
Many of those patients suffer from open wounds on their toes and feet that won’t heal.
“When we put them in the hyperbaric chamber, we can pressurize them, give them 100 percent oxygen, which is well over what you and I are breathing at this point,” she said.
She said hyperbaric chambers are effective because they stimulate tiny diseased blood vessels around the wound.
Danny Hamilton, 49, suffers from diabetes, and said he’s had eight heart attacks since he was 35 years old.
He said the hyperbaric chamber has helped heal a huge open wound on his right big toe.
“I can walk and move and go about my daily life. I’ll grant things have changed some, but not to the extent they could have, if I lost part of a foot or my leg even,” he said.