In 1972, the U.S.'s 27 hyperbaric oxygen chambers primarily were used for research. In the '90s, after tests proved the efficacy of the technology in treating wounds, burns and infections, Medicare began to cover patient treatment. Now there are more than 1,030 chambers approved to treat 13 conditions, including gangrene, crush and trauma injuries, and chronic wounds. Doctors who train at centers that offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy seem more likely to suggest the treatment, said Dr. Ian Grover, medical director at University of Califorinia, San Diego's Hyperbaric Medicine Center.

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