Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, also known as HBOT, is an innovative treatment procedure that gained great popularity among medical professionals in recent years. Hyperbaric therapy is used to treat a wide range of health conditions such as decompression sickness in divers, non-healing diabetic wounds, carbon monoxide poisoning, neurodevelopmental disorders, etc.
What is Hyperbaric Therapy?
HBOT is a medical procedure wherein the patient enters a sealed compartment known as the hyperbaric chamber for a period of 60 to 90 minutes per session. Once inside, 100% pure oxygen is dispensed to the individual. The level of atmospheric pressure inside the hyperbaric chamber can be anything between two to five times higher than normal atmospheric pressure at sea level.
Pure oxygen is absorbed quickly by the bodily fluids of the patient due to the increased pressure levels. Hence, the level of oxygen supply in the body increases as the pure oxygen is carried by the plasma, spinal fluid, and other body fluids, as opposed to just being circulated via the flow of blood to different organs of the body.
This additional supply of oxygen facilitates angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and tissue regeneration in the damaged area of the body enabling blood to flow to the region. It also encourages quicker recovery from various illnesses and injuries, as oxygen helps reduce inflammation in the brain as well as in various other bodily organs.
The organs that had been deprived of oxygen due to an injury or inflammation restricting the flow of blood can receive adequate oxygen supply and begin the process of recovery. When hyperbaric therapy is delivered consistently, it can solve the problems created by oxygen deprivation and set severely ill patients on the path to recovery.
What is a Hyperbaric Chamber?
Hyperbaric therapy, however, cannot take place without a hyperbaric chamber. This chamber might come with a mattress, a sealed glass window for a medical professional to supervise the treatment procedure as well as a medicine cabinet.
To be precise, a hyperbaric chamber is simply a sealed vessel that is filled with 100 percent pure oxygen at higher atmospheric pressure to enable the oxygen to enter the patient’s body fluids easily. The amount of pressure applied during any particular session may depend on the patient’s tolerance for high-pressure levels and the specific condition that is being treated.
The patient might enter the chamber with a book or watch TV through the sealed, transparent window. On the other hand, he or she could also choose to spend the duration of the therapy sleeping inside the hyperbaric chamber. Hyperbaric chambers can have a wide range of designs and can be made to be portable or stationary. The type of hyperbaric chamber that you will require will depend on your specific needs and priorities.
Types of Hyperbaric Chambers
1. Monoplace Hyperbaric Chamber:
These hyperbaric chambers can accommodate only a single person at a time. Usually, monoplace chambers are portable and can be purchased or rented by individuals for their personal use. These chambers are relatively small and only have enough space for one person to lie down inside to receive treatment.
Many sports personalities purchase portable monoplace chambers so that they reap the benefits of HBOT therapy to recover quickly from sporting injuries while on tour or during championships. You can also rent a monoplace hyperbaric chamber for your home, if you need regular therapy sessions and don’t want to travel to a hyperbaric clinic for daily appointments.
2. Multiplace Hyperbaric Chamber:
Multiplace hyperbaric chambers can accommodate more than one person at a time. This means that two or more persons can receive therapy at the same time inside one of these chambers. However, not all multiplace chambers are the same. The size may vary from one chamber to the next, so while one multiplace chamber might be able to accommodate just two people, others can accommodate three or more per session.
Usually, multiplace hyperbaric chambers are owned by commercial hyperbaric clinics or large hospitals. These are large, bulky devices that are rarely portable. They are also more expensive than monoplace chambers. If you opt to get your treatment at a reputed hyperbaric clinic, you may end up inside a multiplace hyperbaric chamber.
Other Categories of HBOT Chambers
Hyperbaric chambers can also be categorized as ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ chambers. A soft or inflatable hyperbaric chamber is essentially made for personal use and is quite light and portable. However, the level of atmospheric pressure inside such a chamber is lower than that which is found within a ‘hard’ or medical-grade hyperbaric chamber.
Moreover, soft chambers rarely contain 100 percent oxygen, although the oxygen levels are still significantly higher than that which is found in the normal atmosphere. Soft chambers are primarily designed for travel, as well as for treating divers and mountain climbers on site.
On the other hand, a hard or medical-grade hyperbaric chamber is typically found in clinics or hospitals. These chambers are heavier, which makes them harder to transport. However, they do offer higher levels of atmospheric pressure as well as 100 percent pure oxygen. Using a hard-sided hyperbaric chamber requires the presence of trained professionals or hyperbaric experts.
These are just some of the facts about hyperbaric chambers that you should know before opting for this treatment procedure. These chambers are also extremely safe and have been used for decades to treat patients suffering from a wide array of conditions.