When the average person thinks of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or HBOT, the first thing that usually comes to mind is treatment for ocean divers suffering from the Bends. However, the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has seen many changes over the last ten years and has seen effective results in conditions such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Brain Injuries, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), Multiple Sclerosis, and so many more. But what exactly is HBOT and how does it work to help these conditions?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves the administration of 100% oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure. This method, with the combination of increased pressure and oxygen concentration, allows oxygen to dissolve in the blood plasma, as well as all body cells, tissues and fluids. This increase in oxygen in damaged cells can work to stimulate new growth of healthy cells.
The high concentrations of oxygen in the body can also work to cause a rebound arterial dilation and increased diameter of injured vessels, thus improving blood flow. The use of the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy also works to create an increase in Superoxide Dismutase, which is an antioxidant produced by our bodies. It also increases the action and effectiveness of the body’s white blood cells. This increase in white blood cells works to fight severe infections.
The most commonly used method for HBOT is the Sechrist monoplace chamber. This chamber is around eight feet long and three feet in diameter. The patient is placed on a gurney and wheeled into the chamber, which is then sealed. The chamber is clear, so the patient is able to look out and watch TV or talk with the operator. Treatment usually lasts about an hour while pure oxygen is pumped into the chamber at increased pressure. The patient does nothing more than recline and breath normally. Once the treatment is over, the chamber is gradually decompressed to normal pressure and the patient is wheeled back out.
A top expert in the practice of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is Dr. Edgar End, who is a clinical professor of environmental medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. When asked how effective he felt hyperbaric oxygen therapy was in treating stroke patients he said, “I’ve seen partially paralyzed people half carried into the chamber, and they walk out after the first treatment. If we got to these people quickly, we could prevent a great deal of damage.”
While Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is only just starting to immerge as a viable treatment option in the United States, it has been used worldwide with amazing results. In Britain, Multiple Sclerosis patients have come together and created a network of hyperbaric chambers, while over 100,000 patients are treated each year in centers around China. However, over the last few years, doctors have begun to see the benefits resulting from the treatments and it is becoming more commonly used in the US.
The reason it is not as greatly used in the US at this time is because it has only received FDA approval for some conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, necrotizing infections, and skin grafts to name a few. However, the list of conditions considered Non-FDA approved off-label is much longer and includes diseases such as Lyme Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and many more. These off-label conditions have shown positive results however. A full list of all FDA approved and off-label conditions, visit Patients Medical.
With the increase in treatment options and success rates, as well as the increase in education of physicians, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in growing in use and acceptance as a medical treatment option. It is showing great promise in so many degenerative conditions and it holds the possibility of returning a patient’s body functions to what they were before the illness or injury occurred. Medical advancements are happening every day, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is just one that may prove to help treat many patients and conditions.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Elmer M. Cranton, M.D.
What is HBOT? Rapid Recovery Hyperbarics
Rashmi Gulati, MD, Conditions Treated With and Costs for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), Patients Medical