Elena Delle Donne, a professional basketball player and one of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) top scorers, sustained a severe injury in her knee during a match with Georgia based Atlanta Dream in August . For several weeks after the injury, the WNBA star’s doctors were not sure if she would be able to play again in 2018. However, with the help of hyperbaric chamber therapy and other medical measures, Delle Donne was back on the field in no time.
How Elena Delle Donne Sustained a Bone Bruise
Elena’s wife Amanda was at the stands in Atlanta when the injury happened. According to sources
, Elena’s injury was devastating to her teammates, fans, as well as to her family and friends. The injury also cast a shadow over Elena’s career and the future of her team, the Washington Mystics. They were just two wins away from the much anticipated WNBA finals when the injury unexpectedly incapacitated Delle Donne, their best player.
When the Mystics arrived in Washington, Delle Donne was diagnosed with a bone bruise. Not only was her knee swollen and tender, the WNBA star was also in excruciating pain, which made her incapable of playing for her team in the next match. However, Delle Donne was determined to play and give her best in Game 4, for which her doctors recommended a plethora of rehab activities. One of the most recommended treatment options was hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT.
The Role of HBOT in the Recovery Process
The day before Game 4, the WNBA superstar underwent two hours of hyperbaric therapy in a hyperbaric chamber. Delle Donne highlighted the important role played by hyperbaric therapy in her recovery process. On the morning of Game 4, despite the misgivings of their coach Mike Thibault, Delle Donne was in her uniform and ready to go on the field. During the game, she made 3-of-5 shots and led her team to victory against the Atlanta Dream.
Elena credits hyperbaric therapy for her quick recovery. The hyperbaric chamber
is essentially a full-body device that helps promote healing and recovery through the administration of pure oxygen at enhanced pressure levels. Over the years, hyperbaric therapy has emerged as one of the most popular methods of treating sports injuries of various kinds, including muscle injuries, bone bruises, ligament tears, and ankle sprains.
The Effectiveness of HBOT in Treating Sports Injuries
The healing of a sports injury is a time consuming and often tedious process that typically consists of three distinct phases. These are as follows:
i) The inflammatory phase
ii) The proliferative phase
iii) The remodeling phase
Each of these phases requires an adequate supply of oxygen, which can be provided through the regular administration of hyperbaric therapy. The enhanced availability of unadulterated oxygen helps to speed up the natural recovery process, as the body fluids including the blood plasma, carries the oxygen to the affected area to enhance faster healing process. HBOT is also non-invasive in nature, which is why sports-persons and sports therapists prefer This treatment procedure over others.
In the inflammatory stage of a sports injury, enhanced oxygen supply could help reduce swelling and minimize pain by controlling the blood vessel permeability. In the proliferative stage, on the other hand, adequate oxygen supply is essential for the synthesis of proteoglycan, fibronectin, and other extracellular matrix components.
Lastly, in the remodeling phase, the oxygen supply provided by HBOT sessions is used to slowly replace the damaged tissue over many hours. In case of serious injuries where the damage to the tissue is extensive, a scar may form at the site of the injury.
Hyperbaric therapy enables sports-persons to recover quickly from their injuries without pausing their careers for an indefinite period. This was demonstrated perfectly in the case of Elena Delle Donne, who recovered from a potentially season-ending knee injury with the help of HBOT. A two-hour session in a hyperbaric chamber enabled her to lead her team to victory in the next match against Atlanta Dream.
In a 2005 experiment
involving seven Olympic athletes, who received hyperbaric therapy for muscular fatigue, it was found that all the participants presented faster recovery rates and benefited significantly from the hyperbaric chamber therapy. These shorter recovery periods helped the athletes and sports-persons get back on the field without losing too much time in recovery and rehab, which often helps save their careers. Athletes suffering from ligament injuries and sprains have also been known to benefit from sessions in a hyperbaric chamber.
Elena Delle Donne and many others like her have benefited from the administration of HBOT over the years. Today, sportspersons, coaches, and associated healthcare providers around the world recommend the use of hyperbaric chambers for treating sporting injuries of all kinds. The duration and frequency of hyperbaric sessions have also been known to have a significant impact on the rate of recovery and the extent of healing, achieved. Hyperbaric therapy research must continue so that future athletes too can benefit from the healing properties of this therapy.