Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a specialized medical treatment wherein a human body is treated of ailments by exposing it to 100% oxygen. Used to treat a wide range of ailments, this therapy involves the use of a total body chamber where atmospheric pressure is regulated.
Though the therapy is known to treat a wide range of medical conditions, it is hardly used as a singular treatment method, rather it’s used as part of an overall medical care plan. However, as the patient is treated with a complete oxygen-filled atmosphere, the results are not only faster but also far more effective.
1. How HBOT Works
In normal condition, oxygen is carried in the human body through the red blood cells. However, under hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT, oxygen gets dissolved with all types of body fluids, central nervous fluids, the bones, lymph and plasma.
Under HBOT, oxygen can be easily transported to spots in the human body where blood circulation is blocked or has diminished. This allows oxygen to reach damaged tissues or injured sections of the body and helps in accelerating the healing process more effectively.
As the affected areas get increased oxygen through HBOT, it enhances the fighting ability of white blood cells against bacteria. Thus, the swelling is controlled allowing fresh blood vessels to develop in the affected areas. The best part is such treatments are non-invasive and pain-free.
2. Conditions Treated by HBOT
It is known, that effective and fast healing of a wound needs appropriate amount of oxygen in the affected tissues. Most injuries are known to linger at the tissue or cellular level. In case of strokes, circulatory problems or non-healing wounds, the main reason is the lack of adequate oxygen that bars the body from natural healing.
The FDA has approved HBOT as effective in treating serious Necrotizing Soft Tissue infections, or healing wounds faster which otherwise are pretty stubborn, especially in diabetic conditions or in the case of radiation injury. It also helps to treat Crush Injury or Traumatic injury or Compartment Syndrome.
The therapy has been seen to produce positive results in decompression sickness (a condition faced by scuba divers), Anemia (Exceptional Blood Loss), Ischemias, Gas Gangrene, Gas or Air Embolism, and Intracranial Abscess.
The therapy is also approved to treat Osteoradionecrosis and Radiation Tissue Damage, Osteomyelitis (Refractory), Compromised Flaps, Skin Grafts and Thermal Burns. It also helps in the recovery from Plastic Surgery, Sports Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Though the FDA does not approve the therapy to treat certain medical conditions, the therapy has yielded positive results when used for those conditions. Some of those medical conditions are Autism, Lyme Disease, Migraine, Cerebral Palsy, Near Drowning, Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis.
A lot of research is being done for effective employment of the therapy in various severe health conditions.
3. Different Methods of Using HBOT
There are a number of ways that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be practiced. Oxygen can be given either directly to the whole body or the affected area can be exposed directly to it. Let’s discuss the different methods in depth:
In order to expose the body to 100% oxygen, the patient is given an oxygen mask that helps oxygen to be delivered directly to the lungs.
In another case, “topical” hyperbaric oxygen therapy is applied to the specific part of the body that is affected. For example, if there is a wound on the hand, it is wrapped in a plastic bag which is filled with 100% oxygen under pressure. Though this localized application of oxygen is easier to use, the effectiveness of the treatment varies.
4. What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber is a special type of chamber or room in which air pressure is increased by three times as compared to normal air pressure. This makes the surrounding cohesive for the lungs absorb more oxygen.
As the whole body is rested in an oxygen-filled chamber, the blood carries oxygen throughout the body which helps the body in fighting with bacteria effectively, stimulating the release of stem cells and growth factors which propagate faster healing.
There are two types of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber used for this therapy. There are the monoplace chambers which are designed for a single person, and multiplace chambers where several individuals can enter at the same time.
5. Is the Treatment Safe?
HBOT is often prescribed by physicians as part of the medical routine and performed by trained medical persons. The treat is quite safe except for minor risks which are involved with almost all medical treatments.
Many positive cases have been reported for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and research is continuously being conducted to ensure better usage of the therapy.