“Hyper” means an increase in the quantity or quality of something; “baric” means pressure. Combined with “oxygen,” these two terms add up to one of the most exciting new developments in medicine:
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
What is HBOT?
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) is a medical therapy where the patient breathes pure oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure inside of a chamber. Using pure oxygen under increased pressure, the body’s natural ability to heal from traumas, diseases and other afflictions is enhanced and in many cases is accelerated. The concentration of pure oxygen dissolved into the bloodstream is dramatically increased with virtually no energy expenditure. In addition to the blood, all body fluids – including the vital lymph and cerebrospinal fluids are infused with the healing benefits of this molecular oxygen.
How is HBOT Administered?
A patient undergoing HBOT spends a prescribed amount of time in one of the monoplace units which are cylindrical, body-length chambers, oxygen is administered while atmospheric pressure is increased, and controlled under closely monitored conditions. Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are non-invasive and painless, and side effects are rare. Less than 1% of patients report slight discomfort from ear pressure, similar to that experienced during air travel. During the treatment, patients can rest comfortably listening music or watching a movie in a portable DVD player.
A Brief History
HBOT has been in use since the mid-1800s in Europe. It began when an anesthesiologist postulated that by increasing the levels of oxygen in operating rooms, patients would be able to heal faster. The more accepted uses of HBOT through most of this century have been in relation to saving the lives of SCUBA divers stricken with decompression sickness (the bends) some poisonings, arterial insufficiency, non-healing wounds, infections, brain and crash injuries, just to mention some.
Hyperbaric O2 therapy today
In addition to the blood, all body fluids – including the vital lymph and cerebrospinal fluids – are infused with the healing benefits of this molecular oxygen. This hyperbaric oxygen can then: a) Reach bone and tissue b) Enhance white blood cell function, and c) Promote the formation of new capillary and peripheral blood vessels. d) Stimulating collagen production, (regeneration) e) Hastening the elimination of dead tissue, f) Preventing infections, improving immune function and decreasing Apoptosis (cell death) g) Accelerating the development of new blood vessels (revascularization). When administered in time, HBOT can also save skin grafts due to burns, accidents or surgical procedures, by enhancing blood vessel growth to the area. If a large surface of skin needs to be replaced, HBOT in advance of the surgery can stimulate a rich vascular bed for the graft. The result is faster healing of a wide range of conditions and decreased infection possibilities. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is approved for some indications by the American Medical Association (AMA), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Medicare. When administered by accredited physicians and highly trained technicians, HBOT is extremely safe and effective.
Using pure oxygen under increased pressure, the body’s natural ability to heal from traumas, chronic diseases and other afflictions is enhanced.
During modern HBOT, the patient breathes pure oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure; the concentration of pure oxygen dissolved into the bloodstream is dramatically increased, with virtually no energy expenditure.
“Hyperbaric O2 therapy, the application of pure oxygen under pressure to enhance the body’s natural ability to heal.”
HBOT was shown to be effective as treatment for radiation damage and lymph edema.
This hyperbaric oxygen can then:
• Reach bone and tissue
• Enhance white blood cell function, and promote the formation of new capillary and peripheral blood vessels.
The result is a faster healing of a wide range of conditions.
OXYGEN, The Basis of Life.
It has long been understood that healing cannot be achieved without sufficient oxygen levels in the tissues, where most illnesses and injuries occur and often linger. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can provide this oxygen, naturally and virtually risk free. Human beings can survive without food for weeks and without water for days – but only minutes without oxygen. Oxygen is the basis of life. Used appropriately, it can mean the difference between life and death, coma and mental alertness, paralysis and movement, illness and health. According to some experts in the field the use of hyperbaric oxygen in the brain injuries is to jump start neuronal brain cells which are marginal; getting enough oxygen to survive but not enough to fire electrically. HBOT helps Increasing blood perfusion and oxygen delivery to the affected areas to stimulate better function. The healing of difficult wounds is a major concern in medicine today, both for the debilitating effect they have on the patient, and the expense of traditional treatment. Difficult wounds including bed sores, leg ulcers, skin grafts, crush injuries, infected bones, and osteo-radionecrosis can develop into chronic conditions requiring costly hospitalization and extensive nursing care. These disabling conditions often show remarkable improvement with hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
As many of us know, even the most casual of athletes and sports enthusiasts can experience injuries. Via HBOT, additional oxygen reaches damaged bone tissue, and helps to speed the body’s healing process, thereby reducing recovery times for various soft-tissue injuries and bone fractures. The effectiveness of HBOT in this area has been well documented; in fact, at least twelve professional NBA, NHL, and NFL teams (including the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys) currently own or lease HBOT chambers for treating their players.
THE RAYNAUD’s PHENOMENON
Patient with Raynaud’s phenomenon before and after hyperbaric oxygen therapy. (Observe her nails)