Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) entails breathing in only very trace amounts of pure oxygen at a high temperature. This pure oxygen is pumped into a specially designed chamber, which is called an "oxygen generator." The purpose of the chamber is to provide near-pure oxygen for medical purposes. It was first used to treat drowning victims, but later was developed to treat several other medical conditions including asthma and arthritis. Currently, it is used in over 100 countries to help many patients who would otherwise not be able to afford such medical treatments.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) includes breathing in only very trace amounts of pure oxygen, usually just a few millimeters of air at a time, in a specially designed chamber or small vessel. The chamber or vessel is called an "oxygen generator." It is the only known medical device that provides near-perfect pressure levels to pressurized, sensitive tissues. Its primary use is to heal diving-related injuries, but it can also improve healing in patients with various other health conditions. In fact, some patients report improved healing after only one session.
Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy is intended to improve physical health, it is used for weight loss. In experiments with mice and rats, it has been shown that the chamber can help reduce body weight after only five days of therapy. Also, diabetic patients have found that hyperbaric chamber can help increase their blood sugar levels, reducing the risks of complications like hypoglycemia.
Another medical use of the hyperbaric chamber is as a treatment for diseases that are caused by high levels of pressure. Two of these diseases are asthma and cystic fibrosis. In a study on animals, it was shown that hyperbaric chamber therapy could prevent and reduce the death of bacteria in the lungs of these animals. Cysts in the lungs of chickens were reduced after a four-day therapy. Asthma sufferers who were given hyperbaric chamber therapy experienced less inflammation and pain after a five-day stay. And a group of diabetic mice showed a reduction in their blood sugar levels that lasted for eight weeks.
Wound care is another application of the hyperbaric chamber, which helps decrease the risk of infections in special cases such as skin grafts. Skin grafts from wounds treated with oxygen and high pressure, submerged in water, had higher graft survival rates than those from controls, according to a study by the University of Florida. "In the past, it was believed that animals don't need to be pumped with oxygen to survive," says study coauthor Jeffery Soderberg, PhD, senior research scientist at the Dana institute. "We now know that it's important to maintain adequate tissue oxygenation for successful wound healing."
Hyperbaric chambers also have the effect of increasing collagen production, promoting the formation of stronger bones and cartilage. This is especially important in patients with joint and bone conditions, such as osteoarthritis. The hyperbaric chamber has been shown to improve healing times of spinal surgeries. "The increase in collagen and the increase in bone formation are both important for long-term wound healing," says study coauthor Lisa Parks, PhD, director of the cellular plasticity and development program at the Navy Medicine Institute in San Diego.
Hyperbaric chambers are often used in the field of sports medicine to promote weight loss. " Athletes who are trying to lose weight have a difficult time exercising under normal circumstances, which makes it difficult to drop pounds and build muscle," says Soderberg. "Winthrop and her team found that by applying hyperbaric oxygen therapy, they were able to dramatically increase the number of calories that participants were able to burn during physical activity." Other studies have applied the healing properties of the chamber to athletes who suffer from knee injuries or other types of joint problems.
Hyperbaric chambers are an effective treatment option for individuals with minor traumatic brain injuries and stroke survivors who may have been unable to return to work after a traumatic experience. Although there are no known side effects associated with hyperbaric chamber treatments, Dr. D'Angelo cautions against the use of the chamber for the treatment of severe burns and severe levels of carbon monoxide. "One should undergo a clinical trial prior to undergoing this procedure, just as one would undergo a clinical trial prior to having surgery," he says. If you or someone you know needs a serious medical attention, contact a trusted brain injury attorney immediately.