OMAHA, Neb. —Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works wonders for cancer patients who may have undergone radiation, according to one Omaha doctor.

[Video: Omaha doctor spreading awareness for hyperbaric oxygen therapy]

Many though, have no idea what hyperbaric oxygen therapy can do, and that’s why Nebraska Medicine’s Dr. Jeff Cooper is making it his mission to spread the word.

49-year-old Joni Cover was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2006. After 55 radiation treatments, new troubles emerged.

“I was suffering from a wound from a radiation burn and we weren’t getting able to get it to heal,” Cover explained.

Cover had severe skin damage from all the radiation. It began as a simple irritation but grew into a much more serious problem.

“The tissue was so damaged that a skin graph wouldn’t hold,” Dr. Jeff Cooper said.

Cooper proposed a solution: hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“It’s a very effective treatment for very specific conditions,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the HBO unit is commonly used for scuba diving injuries or carbon monoxide poisoning, but many patients with radiation wounds, like Cover, benefit from it, too.

“That accounts for about two-thirds of our treatment here,” Cooper said.

During the treatment, a patient lies inside an enclosed chamber for two hours.

“We fill it with oxygen and we increase the pressure of the oxygen two to three times normal atmospheric pressure,” Cooper said.

Blood then carries that oxygen throughout the body. Cooper said it helps fight bacteria and promotes healing.

“They have movies and books on tape and all kinds of things to keep you entertained, so it really was completely painless,” Joni Cover said.

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Both Cover and Cooper are pleased with the results. They want more people in similar situations to know there is another option.

“I just feel very, very lucky and blessed,” Cover said. “I had success and I think for patients out there that maybe feel there isn’t another option, they should be willing to give it a try.”

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