Patient’s hearing improves thanks to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at RMH

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Patient’s hearing improves thanks to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Rome Memorial Hospital’s Regional Center for Wound Care

George Cooley, an 18-year veteran in the Army National Guard, somehow lost the hearing in one ear. Perplexed, he made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) for help.

George was diagnosed with idopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). Commonly known as sudden deafness, SSHL occurs as an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing. Usually in one ear, it occurs all at once or over several days, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Only 10% of people diagnosed with SSHL have an identifiable cause.

“One day I was walking and talking with my right ear against the telephone,” George explained. “When the phone rang again, I put it to my right ear and this time could not hear a thing. I tried my left ear and could hear fine.”

Medication didn’t resolve the problem and George felt isolated. “I hid in my house for three months while doctors tried to find out what was wrong.”

That is when his ENT recommended hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing pure oxygen in a specially designed chamber and is used as a treatment to increase the supply of oxygen to the ear and brain to help reduce the severity of the hearing loss. (Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has also been used to reduce the severity of sudden onset of tinnitus (ringing in the ear) in conjunction with the hearing loss.

George visited Rome Memorial Hospital’s Regional Center for Wound Care to learn about the treatments. Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Fields, MS, FNP discussed the benefits of early hyperbaric treatment, answered his questions and, with HBOT technician, Terri Gleasman, LPN, put him at ease.

“George was prescribed 20 treatments of HBOT,” Gleasman said. “Treatments were required daily for the best outcome and he came faithfully.”

“Terri was a lifesaver,” George remarked. “I am a little claustrophobic and she talked me through every step of the treatment, every day I came.”

“There is no pain associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. If patients, like George, are claustrophobic, that’s what I am there for,” Terri explained. “I am there to help alleviate any nervousness and help patients feel comfortable.” Patients watch television or bring their favorite DVD to therapy.

After the treatment cycle, George had formal hearing testing done to determine improvement.

“I regained 18% of the hearing I had lost,” George said. “It was enough to give me the confidence I needed to leave the house and get back to my life!”

George enjoys walking, listening to music and meditation. “Now I can hear what is going on around me more and it has given me hope. I have conversations with people and now I live a fuller life.”

When asked what he would tell others with a similar diagnosis, George said “they should try the treatment” in hopes it will “work miracles for them as it did for me.”

“We are thrilled for Mr. Cooley,” Terri said. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is best known for treating hard-to-heal wounds, but this is another example of how HBOT can improve people’s lives.”

Many types of innovative treatments are available at the center to meet the individualized needs of patients.

“We work in collaboration with primary care and specialty physicians,” Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Fields said.

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an extremely safe, non-invasive treatment,” Gleasman said. “We have had many success stories with patients undergoing HBOT, George being just one of them.”

The Regional Center for Wound Care is located on the Griffiss Business & Technology Park, 267 Avery Lane, Rome.For more information, please call 315-338-7540.

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