At first glance, treating such life-altering aliments such as strokes, diabetic ulcers and multiple sclerosis though pressurized oxygen chambers might seem like something from out of science fiction movie. Recent research, however, suggests that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can provide new hope for patients suffering from numerous chronic illnesses.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves the use of hyperbaric chambers usually occupied by a single patient. The interior of these machines produce elevated levels of pressure (around 2.5 times the normal atmospheric pressure), which in turn increases the pressure of the chamber’s oxygen supply. This procedure’s impact on the air in the chamber is dramatic; the air that patients inhale during HBOT is 100% oxygen. In contrast, the air we usually breathe contains only 19-21% oxygen. The oxygen then enters the patient and is absorbed into the body’s blood plasma, the liquid component of blood responsible for transporting dissolved substances throughout the body.
Benefits of HBOT
The benefits of this therapy are numerous. Body tissues with damaged and restricted access to the body’s blood stream are infused with much needed oxygen. New blood vessels can be formed to aid areas of the body suffering from the effects of arterial blockage. HBOT can also widen the diameter of blood vessel connected to vital organs, allowing these essential parts of the body to receive healthy amounts of blood. In addition, the body’s immune system receives a very beneficial boost, as white blood cells and antibiotics are made more effective by the additional oxygen.
Currently, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can be used treat the following ailments:
- Arterial gas embolism (bubbles of air in blood vessels)
- Decompression sickness
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Persistent wounds that fail to properly heal
- A crush injury
- Brain abscess
- Skin or bone infection resulting in tissue death
- Radiation injuries
- Skin grafts or skin flaps at risk of tissue death
- Severe anemia
While this list is certainly impressive, there is evidence that HBOT may be a very effective tool against even more dangerous medical conditions. A January 2003 study reported that HBOT improved the performance of nervous systems in stroke victims. Another UK-based analysis found that many multiple sclerosis patients experienced relief from their MS symptoms after undergoing HBOT. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has also been shown to be effective in treating children with cerebral palsy and other chronic brain injuries; a 2006 study by Nova Southeastern University noted that approximately 70% of test subject afflicted with brain injuries responded positively to HBOT, showing noticeable improvements with their motor skills.
Options for Consumers
Recent developments in hyperbaric chamber development have made HBOT therapy a much more pleasant experience for patients. One such example, the Sechrist monoplace chamber, features measurements of roughly 8 feet in length and 3 feet in diameter. The interior of this medical device boasts a comfortable, cot-like stretcher which can be rolled in and out of the chamber. The patient also enjoys a complete 360 view of the outside environment, thanks to the chamber’s largely transparent structure. While undergoing treatment, the patient can watch TV, read, nap or talk to family members through two-way microphones and speakers.
Another company, OxyHealth, has developed five different versions of the hyperbaric chamber. While these products lack the transparency of the Sechrist chamber, they can be easily moved and transported, as Oxyhealth offers both inflatable and portable chambers. While each version has its unique trait, customers can expect every inflatable model offered by the company to feature at least one observation window, clean air compressors, and tamper-proof redundant pressure regulators. Depending on which model is selected, portable versions of the chamber include features like high efficiency filtering systems, multiple observation windows, and performance enhancing nylon jackets. Every model contains a custom built mattress.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has already proven useful in treating a myriad of diseases, and has helped patients recover from other notorious illnesses. Though it may appear unconventional, HBOT could be a realistic option for people looking for alternative options for medical treatment.