What is Hyperbaric Therapy?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a non-invasive, painless medical intervention in which a person is exposed to increased pressure, thus allowing greater absorption of oxygen throughout body tissues. This increased pressure allows more oxygen to reach the cells within the body therefore contributing to the many healing and therapeutic benefits.
HBOT works by placing a patient inside of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, where the person breathes 100% oxygen in an environment of about 2.5 times normal atmospheric pressure. This pure oxygen and increased pressure allow red blood cells to deliver more oxygen to tissues and organs and white blood cells to perform more effectively. Increasing a person’s oxygen levels allows the body to repair itself more efficiently and promotes overall wellness.
During a hyperbaric “dive” the fluids and tissues of the body receive an infusion of readily available oxygen. In fact, even cells and areas of the body with limited circulation become saturated in oxygen. The effect is an uptake of oxygen in the blood, plasma cerebral-spinal fluids, and tissues. In addition, the vaso-constrictive nature of hyperbaric therapy has an added effect of reducing inflammation and edema.
How do I get started?
A prescription is required to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy at our facility, and to rent/purchase a soft chamber. Our physicians can evaluate and write prescriptions for HBOT. To do so, they require a 30 minute HBOT consultation to perform a physical examination, discuss potential benefits, go over potential risks, answer patient questions, and ensure safety of treatment. We can also accept prescriptions from a patient’s physician and are willing to provide supportive information to them if requested.
Prescriptions from medical doctors should include the following information:
- Treatment Pressure (1.3ATA, 1.5ATA, 1.75ATA, 2.0ATA, or 2.2ATA)
- Time at Pressure
- Number of Treatments
- Indicate use of 100% oxygen
After a prescription has been obtained, the next step will be to complete the intake paperwork and contact Holland Biomedical Clinic to schedule sessions.
What’s it like?
A treatment consists of five parts.
- Putting on the oxygen hood and entering the chamber
- Compression (Usually 15 minutes)
- Time at Pressure (Usually 60 minutes)
- Decompression (Usually 15 minutes)
- Exiting the chamber and removing the oxygen hood
Generally, the only thing one notices while in a hyperbaric chamber is a “full-ear” feeling during the compression and decompression portions of the treatment. This feeling is just like that experienced on an airplane, and is easily relieved by equalizing ones ears. To assure comfort throughout, compression and decompression times can be sped up or slowed down depending on a patient’s ability to acclimate to the change in pressure.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be very relaxing. Patients who are nervous about being inside the chamber usually feel very comfortable by the second or third treatment.
What about safety?
We take every precaution to make treatments at our facility as safe as possible. Instead of filling the entire chamber with oxygen like many other centers with monoplace chambers do, we only fill the hood a patient wears around their head. In addition, we limit electronics going into the chamber, use 100% cotton pillow cases/sheets, recommend patients wear 100% cotton clothing, and regulate all items brought into our chambers. For children under 12 years of age, we require an attendant over 18 to go in with them as an attendant.
What can/should I bring?
We provide everything needed to treat, but patients usually like to bring in materials that will keep them busy and help pass the time. Since our chambers are filled with compressed air, we have some flexibility as to what patients can bring into the chamber. Some approved materials include: Books, magazines, crossword puzzles, sudoku, and non-spiral notebooks. Items that are not directly addressed here, or on the chamber guidelines page of the intake packet, should be approved by a technician before going into a chamber. No food items or drinks are allowed inside the chambers.
If a patient would like to watch a movie during an HBOT session, we encourage them to bring in a DVD. We have DVD players with flip up swivel screens that can be positioned and viewed through the rear window of each chamber. Specialized speakers attached to the outside wall of the chambers vibrate the chamber walls and allow patients to hear their movie inside the chamber. NOTE: Only DVD’s with ratings of G, PG, or PG-13 can be played due to the potential presence of nearby children.
About our Chambers?
Our two steel monoplace chambers are spacious and offer the privacy many patients prefer. Measuring in at seven feet in length and 44 inches in diameter, there is plenty of room inside to comfortably fit two patients and an attendant (if necessary). To increase comfort, we have antimicrobial foam mattresses and cotton pillows. The 100% cotton pillow cases and sheets we use swapped out with fresh ones between sessions. Extra pillows and blankets can be requested. The chambers are cleaned and maintained regularly by staff.