U.S., Thai Navy work to tackle hyperbaric treatments
By Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks
| | May 09, 2007
ABHAKORN HOSPITAL, SATTAHIP NAVAL BASE, Thailand --
Thai cancer patients at Sattahip Naval Base’s Abhakorn Hospital experienced the healing powers of hyperbaric oxygen therapy May 9 while Thai and U.S. military members trained together during the combined military exercise Cobra Gold 2007.
In continuing their humanitarian assistance in the Pacific region, the U.S. Navy helped its Thai counterparts implement advances in hyperbaric treatments in Royal Thai Naval medical facilities.
Hyperbaric therapy is a treatment in which patients breathe pure oxygen at high pressure levels. The treatment delivers oxygen at levels two to three times greater than atmospheric pressure. When combined with other medical and surgical procedures, the treatment enhances the healing process of many treatable conditions.
The therapy helps increase the blood oxygen supply, grow new blood vessels and works in killing bacteria through high levels of oxygen.
Patients receiving this treatment are placed inside a large metal cylinder where pressure is increased enabling the healing process.
Some of the recent U.S. advances include limiting the amount of time patients spend in these giant pressurized tubes. In the past, patients spent up to 36 hours in the chamber. U.S. Navy researchers found this dangerous and suggested decreasing the amount of time to no more than 22 hours inside the chamber per treatment.
This advancement has substantially improved the way Thai medical personnel use hyperbaric therapy, according to Royal Thai Navy Capt. Kajit Autsaneesawat, doctor of underwater medicine at the hospital.
The hyperbaric chamber at Abhakorn is one of three official treatment facilities in Thailand, according to Royal Thai Navy Lt. Cmdr. Doo Nitran, Underwater Treatment Division commander. It is used quite extensively for its many health benefits.
“Our department is on call all the time,” Nitran said. “We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Hyperbaric treatment, which is also used to treat decompression sickness, is vital technology in Thailand, a country with a vast diving industry. According to an article written by the Thai Tourism Authority, Thailand has one of the world’s more frequented dive destinations with more than 550,000 diving tourists a year.
Royal Thai Navy Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Cholchai Chaiprasitt, a hyperbaric chamber nurse, said hyperbaric therapy could potentially be used to treat military members during exercises involving amphibious operations such as Cobra Gold.
“This treatment is important to the public and the military,” Chaiprasitt said. “I am happy that we can improve it.”
More stories, photos and videos are availible at www.apan-info.net/cobragold.