Using atmospheric pressure to treat patients isn’t new— the process was actually introduced in the 1600s by a British clergyman. Oxygen didn’t become the gas of choice until the 1930s, when the military discovered oxygen saturates hemoglobin in the blood—assisting faster healing of military personnel wounds.
Medical studies show that for some conditions 100 percent oxygen has beneficial effects when breathed in a chamber under higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. HBOT, as it’s called, is a painless procedure having dramatic results for certain diseases/disorders/injuries. For example, when a wound doesn’t heal because of insufficient blood supply, HBOT can increase blood vessel growth into the wound—permitting skin grafting or rapid healing. HBOT is not simply a treatment for decompression illness in scuba divers or carbon monoxide poisoning anymore; it is an adjunct therapy to other care delivered by physicians and surgeons.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Research
The following are specifics about how this therapy is used and which disorders have benefited most:
- increased pressure, combined with an increase in oxygen to one hundred percent, dissolves oxygen in the blood plasma and all body cells, tissues and fluids at up to ten times normal concentration;
- greatly increases oxygen concentration in all body tissues, even with reduced or blocked blood flow;
- stimulates growth of new blood vessels to locations with reduced circulation, including areas of arterial blockage;
- aids treatment of infection by enhancing white blood cell action;
- aids in treatment of chronic degenerative health problems related to atherosclerosis, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, diabetic ulcers, wound healing, preparation for skin grafting, cerebral palsy, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, delayed radiation injury, macular degeneration, decompression sickness (commonly known as “the bends”), air embolism, and other rare infections and poisonings;
- any area where blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs is reduced, function and healing can be aided. When the brain is injured by stroke, CP, or trauma, HBOT may activate stunned parts of the brain to restore function;
- results can be dramatic, especially in patients with cerebral vascular disease who commonly recover from complications of stroke more readily after HBOT. This is also true for potentially gangrenous legs and feet caused by blocked circulation—especially in diabetics—and slow-healing diabetic ulcers; HBOT relieves pain, helps fight infection, and keeps threatened tissues alive.
What Health Experts Are Saying…
”I’ve seen partially paralyzed people half carried into the HBOT chamber, and they walk out after the first treatment. If we got to these people quickly, we could prevent a great deal of damage.”
Dr. Edgar End, Clinical Professor of Environmental Medicine,
Medical College of Wisconsin
“I attended a class for HBOT at Nix Hospital, San Antonio, Texas last winter. The entire class of 60 was comprised of surgeons and nurses whose specialty was wound care—if the wound didn’t heal with one skin graft they proceeded to amputation. I was blessed to be able to integrate HBOT into the integrative medical therapies we currently practice in our clinic to avoid severe complications.”Dr. Karl Peterson, Mt. Rainier Clinic for Wholistic
Rejuvenation, Gig Harbor, Washington
According to the Mayo Clinic, HBOT is a lifesaving treatment for victims of air-gas embolisms and illnesses associated with decompression.
“I have personally and professionally witnessed the amazing results after HBOT. My wife had a stroke—within 56 hours I had her in the HBOT chamber; I credit HBOT as the major facilitator in her cognitive recovery and clearing of two major heart vessels blocked at 80 percent, which returned to 100 percent flow within four months; she was off all prescriptive medications within two months. Additionally, I’ve witnessed the amazing behavioral improvements in autistic children as well as in patients with wounds unresponsive to conventional therapies.”Dr. Russell Kolbo, Mt. Rainier Clinic for
Wholistic Rejuvenation, Gig Harbor, Washington
What HBOT Technicians are Saying…
I was fortunate to interview Tammy, a technician with the Mt. Rainier Clinic in Gig Harbor, Washington, who is a HBOT technician—she describes three most memorable cases:
“A child of approximately five months of age was born healthy. At age six months, the mother was bathing her and the phone rang; she left the infant for a few seconds to answer the phone. In that time, the infant submerged in water and experienced what physicians diagnosed as irreversible brain damage. The parents did not know about HBOT and didn’t bring the child for therapy until one year of age; the child was totally non-responsive—in a vegetative state. After the second dive, [a session is referred to as a dive] the child began tracking with her eyes. After approximately 12 dives, she began rolling-over on her own and making independent movements. Improvement continued but the family was from out of the country and I cannot report on the overall outcome.
“A male patient in his late 40s had a massive stroke; his face was numb and drooping with no muscular control. After his 1st dive he began to feel tingling in his face. After the 6th dive, he could again move his face and his speech was less slurred. To further complicate the case, the patient was diabetic. He developed an infection in his toe that became gangrenous and his physician recommended amputation of several toes, telling him they would never heal and if he didn’t agree to the amputation immediately they would end up removing his foot. After HBOT therapy, his toes completely healed and no sign of infection remained.
“A diabetic female in her mid 50s was scheduled for foot amputation due to an infection—eventually leading to a hole in the arch of her foot; the hole was the size of an adult fist. The patient came in daily for HBOT and the hole completely closed with no infection or complications.”
What is the HBOT chamber?
HBOT uses a state-of-the-art chamber where the entire body is placed in a transparent, airtight chamber at increased atmospheric pressure. The patient is surrounded by, and breathes, 100 percent pure oxygen—most chambers are large enough to comfortably hold a person seven feet tall.
The Hyperbaric Experience…
After evaluation by a hyperbaric medicine specialist, you’ll be given detailed instructions. Briefly, you will be required to remove all the following while in the chamber: hair oils, hair spray, perfumes, make-up, nylons (hose or panty hose), ointments, liniments, petroleum or Vaseline products, wigs or hair pieces, aftershave, synthetics (i.e. rayon, nylon, etc.), electronics, all jewelry, hearing aids or salves. In short, you will enter the chamber with only the 100 percent cotton scrub clothing provided by the clinic.
How it Feels
You will feel a change in ear pressure (similar to the feeling experienced in an airplane). The remainder of treatment should be a time for you to read, sleep, watch TV or just relax; patients of all ages generally tolerate the treatments well. Side effects reported include a metallic taste and noticing pressure remaining in your ears for a short time. Others report, “The best, rejuvenating night’s sleep I’ve ever had is after therapy, it feels like the cob webs have been removed from my brain, like someone cleaned house upstairs.”
Depending on the nature of the illness/disorder and individual progress, patients with wound healing problems or stroke usually require 20–40 treatments. Patients with acute diseases such as decompression illness or carbon monoxide poisoning usually need only 1–2 treatments. If the therapy is in one hour increments, patients can do two dives within 24 hours as long as there is a four hour air break between 60 minute treatments. If the therapy is 90 minutes, only one treatment within 24 hours can be given.
Yes, HBOT is definitely life-saving. If you, or someone you love, experience a stroke, get them into HBOT as soon as you can; preferably within 48 hours. Locate a health facility in your close proximity that performs HBOT, don’t wait until you need it to find one.
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