HBOT or hyperbaric oxygen therapy is essentially the art of breathing virtually pure oxygen in a small chamber or specialized room. It is used primarily for the treatment of diving-related illness; however, it may also improve healing in individuals with a range of other conditions.

HBOT can boost oxygenation and circulation, enabling the oxygen to repair and build damaged blood vessels. In addition, the therapy can trigger the growth of collagen, which results in healing. The escalation in pressure could also decrease swelling, which in turn, boosts the flow of blood throughout the body. Furthermore, oxygen assists the body in creating new white blood cells, which further assists the body with fighting off infection.

A doctor created the first oxygen chamber in 1962, which was essentially a sealed room with a succession of valves and bellows. It was built based on the belief that pressure could assist in treating particular respiratory diseases. During the 1940s in the United States, HBOT developed into a standard treatment technique for military divers.

Based on reports from the Divers Alert Network, while there are approximately 1,200 HBOT centers across the nation, there are only two dedicated primarily to treating diving injuries. Additionally, HBOT has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating 13 conditions; however, some individuals and institutions are calling for additional approvals.

Oxygen Chambers

Oxygen chambers boost the volume of oxygen within the body by doubling in the pace of an hour; it should be noted that there is no known medical benefit to being in an oxygen chamber past two hours. This decreases inflammation in the body, which includes the brain, joints and muscles.

Some of the common uses of oxygen chambers involve treating diabetic foot ulcers, in which tendon, muscle or bone may be exposed. HBOT can also assist in treating certain infections, decompression sickness, osteomyelitis, carbon monoxide poisoning, thermal burns and failing grafts or flaps. Individuals who have been afflicted with certain cancers and have endured radiation treatments can benefit as well. It is also beneficial to patients with radionecrosis, which is tissue damage resulting from exposure to radiation.

Varieties of Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers

There are two types of oxygen chambers used in HBOT. They are:

Multi-place Chamber

This is essentially a room or chamber that is designed to fit two or more individuals at the same time. For this treatment, the patient slides into the chamber and it is gradually pressurized with 100 percent oxygen. Unlike the monoplace chamber, people breathe pure oxygen through hoods or masks.

Monoplace Chamber

This is an oxygen chamber that is built for a single person. It is basically an elongated, plastic tube which looks like an MRI machine. With the monoplace chamber, the treatment is pretty much the same. There are some chambers that are equipped with masks designed to supply an alternative breathing gas like air. Equipment stays on the outside of the chamber and patients are tended to from outside as well. Only certain ventilation ducts and intravenous lines pierce the hull.

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