Lt. Col. Austin H. Chhoeu runs a quiet operation in a building just outside the entrance of Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center.
It's so quiet that some of the doctors in the hospital don't even know about the work of his staff, he said, but that's changing.
"People are beginning to know more about hyperbaric medicine," said Chhoeu, the chief of wound care and hyperbaric medicine at the hospital.
The hyperbaric chamber at Fort Gordon is the only one in the Army used for clinical purposes, he said.
The first Food and Drug Administration-approved use of a hyperbaric chamber was to treat divers for decompression sickness, he said. Its applications have been expanded.
"Hyperbarics are a good tool in the right indications," he said. "It's not a cure-all."
The chamber is about 6 feet in diameter and has the capacity for up to 12 patients, who inhale oxygen under pressure, increasing the volume of oxygen dissolved in blood plasma.
He said the increased oxygen helps "white blood cells work more efficiently," thereby promoting healing.
Chhoeu said there are 13 conditions in which hyperbaric medicine has proved to be beneficial. Burns, carbon monoxide poisoning and skin grafts are among the conditions the chamber is used to treat.
He said researchers are looking into other uses for the treatment.
The hyperbaric chamber has been at Fort Gordon since 1997.
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