Robin Leady, of Bowling Green, was working as a machine press operator at Marathon Special Products on June 3 when the bottom half of a punch press weighing more than 75 pounds fell on and crushed her pinky finger. She received 16 stitches in the Wood County Hospital (WCH) Emergency Department (ED) and was told she might need a skin graft to repair the significant damage her finger had sustained. The ED physician referred her to ReadyWorks, the WCH Occupational Medicine clinic. The ReadyWorks physician Ed Wojciechowski, M.D., suggested her finger wasn't getting enough oxygen. It appeared that the tip of her finger was dying. He referred her to the WCH Wound Healing Center for hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy.
Robin underwent HBO therapy for two-and-a-half hours at a time, twice a day, including weekends, over a two week period. Following 17 total treatments, her finger recovered completely, without a skin graft.
"The coordinated referral process between the ED, ReadyWorks and the Wound Healing Center was very helpful to Robin's successful healing process," said Michele Youngdale, Director of the Wound Healing Center. "In addition, HBO therapy was the key to healing this soft tissue crushing injury. Without the HBO, Robin's finger could have had limited function, needed surgery or have been lost."
Crush injuries such as Robin's are great candidates for HBO therapy. Crush injuries occur as a result of severe trauma, usually in the extremities, and can compromise circulation and lead to amputation and/or infection. They can even be life-threatening in some cases. HBO therapy increases the delivery of oxygen to the injured extremity by restoring blood flow. In addition to this, HBO reduces swelling and helps the body fight infection. This process aids in limb salvage.
It worked for Robin, who was very happy with her experience at the Wound Healing Center.
"The staff was great," she said. "They showed me the hyperbaric oxygen chamber prior to my ‘dives,' and they prescribed something to help me relax, but I didn't need it. Because of the airiness of the HBO, I didn't find it to be claustrophobic. I spent my treatment times watching movies and napping. I would definitely recommend the Wound Healing Center for others needing similar treatment."