Restorix Health hyperbaric chamber leads to space-age medical research
February 15, 2011
By Laura Geggel
Mention hyperbaric chambers, and most people start thinking about pressurized rooms where scuba divers afflicted with the bends go to recover.
But the chambers can be used for much more, and Issaquah’s Restorix Health plans to participate in hyperbaric treatment and research to find other medical uses for the pressurized chambers.
“We think there is great potential nationwide for what they’re doing and what they started in Issaquah,” Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Bott said, congratulating it for receiving one of the chamber’s three Innovation in Issaquah awards.
Restorix Health, which opened in Issaquah in December, has grand ambitions for its comprehensive health care delivery system. With six hyperbaric chambers, it has the largest collection of large monoplace chambers in the country. The chambers deliver oxygen with an increased atmospheric pressure, and can help heal patients with diverse maladies, including diabetic patients who have dying tissue deprived of its regular dose of oxygen.
“By putting your whole body under pressure, we dissolve oxygen into the liquid part of your body,” Medical Director Tommy Love said.
Increased oxygen levels can stimulate different responses in the body, including faster healing and increased stem cells, Medical Director Latisha Smith said.
Hyperbaric chambers are approved for 14 treatments, and by opening 15 to 20 new clinics along the West Coast in the next five years, Restorix Health will contribute to research looking for more uses.
“Hyperbaric therapy is another tool we can use to help heal wounds,” Love said. “We think hyperbaric therapy can be beneficial in more things.”
A handful of local health care centers have hyperbaric chambers, but their chambers are often used for paying patients, not research, Love said. Restorix Health staff can easily schedule patients and also have room for research participants, which will be double-blind studies in which neither the patient nor the doctor know who is getting hyperbaric treatment in the chamber.
The company’s nonprofit foundation is raising money to help pay for the research, Love said. Much of the research will be done in concert with other hyperbaric facilities across the country.
Some of the studies will address concussions from vehicle accidents and sports injuries, and traumatic brain injuries sustained in the U.S. armed forces.
The company frowns on other hyperbaric companies that might “prey on desperate people” looking for miracle cures, Love added.
At Restorix Health, one health care worker monitors two chambers, and can use a phone to communicate with the patients in the giant, clear tubes. Some patients watch TV, others read and a few fall asleep during their two-hour treatments, Love said.
“A lot of times you forget you’re in a vessel,” he said.
In addition to its hyperbaric chambers, the clinic will also treat patients with lymphedema, a disease that happens when a person’s lymphatic system is blocked and their leg or arm swells from the increased fluid.
The clinic has rooms dedicated to massage — so the patient’s lymphatic fluids can start moving again — and has other rooms with wide doors so patients on stretchers can easily enter and transfer to the examination chair.
A spacious room with cushy chairs, wood floors and tall windows waits for lymphedema patients receiving IV infusions. A nurses’ station is located behind a glass window, giving health care workers the opportunity to monitor patients while entering information into electronic medical charts.
Past the nurses’ station is the pharmacy, a room where Restorix Health pharmacists can prepare their own drugs. A room nearby serves as a dressing room for patients using the hyperbaric chamber — they can’t wear polyester because its friction can cause sparks, a bad idea in a highly oxygenated environment.
Restorix Health does not plan to replace family doctors; it wants to work in tandem with them on a referral basis, Smith said.
Bott praised Restorix Health for its innovative ideas and encouraged it forward with its research.
“Some of the criteria that really stood out with them included the potential that we felt they had with wound treatment, and the company’s affiliation with the research foundation,” he said. “We felt that was an innovative model to drive wound treatment in this area.”
Issaquah Innovators, Part 2 of 3 in a series highlighting Innovation in Issaquah honorees
Eastside Baby Corner honored for innovation
What began in 1990 as an operation run out of pediatric nurse practitioner Karen Ridlon’s house has turned into an innovative boon for youths from birth to age 12, and the agencies serving them.
The Issaquah Chamber of Commerce has awarded Eastside Baby Corner with a 2011 nonprofit Innovation in Issaquah award.
“What throws them to the top is they have really put together an extensive and innovative collective and distribution model. They supply the agencies that provide the frontline distribution network,” chamber CEO Matt Bott said. “Their model is very innovative in terms of how they collect it, how they manage it and how they get it back out the door.”
Since starting in Ridlon’s house, EBC has moved to Northwest Maple Street to a site donated by Rowley Properties.
EBC accepts monetary and new and used donations, which it gives to agencies serving families in need. In all, EBC works with 43 agencies and 125 providers, Director of Development and Community Relations Helen Banks Routon said.
The agencies include Hopelink, the Eastside Domestic Violence Program, Friends of Youth and the Issaquah School District. Each provider can go online to EBC’s website and order materials for children at that location.
“We’re helping the helpers,” Routon said. “We’re probably impacting about 500 lives a week. We can help a lot of kids that way instead of just having families come in here.”
Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.