The therapy requires the individual to inhale pure oxygen inside a hyperbaric chamber. The pressurized environment dissolves oxygen into blood plasma, a liquid body part that transports proteins and hormones.
HBOT treats several conditions, including certain non-healing diabetic ulcers and recurring bone infections, and supports healing in patients with non-healing skin grafts due to radiation damage from cancer treatments. It also treats many brain injuries and chronic health conditions like autism and PTSD.
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
HBOT is a treatment that uses pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. Patients sit or lie comfortably inside the chamber. Once inside the chamber, the air pressure is gradually increased, enabling your lungs to collect more oxygen, and the blood carries that extra oxygen to tissues that need it most.
HBOT has been used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning, severe burns, and slow-healing wounds. It is also thought to help in various other conditions, including brain injuries, though more research is needed in this area.
HBOT is a safe therapy and is covered by Medicare and many insurances. Working with a doctor who has received special training from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society in hyperbaric medicine is crucial.
How Does HBOT Work?
HBOT treatment involves breathing 100% pure oxygen in a medical device known as a hyperbaric chamber. It is a large machine that can fit one or multiple people and is FDA-approved for treating specific health conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning and diving accidents.
The chamber’s increased pressure enables oxygen to dissolve directly into blood plasma. Blood plasma carries proteins, hormones, and nutrients throughout the body. It allows five to ten times more oxygen to reach areas with low oxygen levels.
The extra oxygen also enhances your white blood cell’s ability to kill bacteria and decreases inflammation in injured tissues. It also encourages the growth of new blood vessels to bring more oxygen to damaged areas.
What Are The Benefits Of HBOT?
HBOT increases oxygen in the blood plasma and reaches areas that are starved. It helps the body fight infection, saturates wounds to promote healthy tissue growth and healing, reduces inflammation, and encourages the development of new blood vessels.
HBOT has improved the function and cognition of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It also improves the condition of some soft tissue injuries, such as diabetic foot ulcers.
When used correctly, HBOT can be very safe and effective. It is FDA-approved to treat 14 conditions, and many insurances cover it. However, it has been used off-label to treat many other conditions with varying success.
How Does HBOT Work For Brain Injuries?
In brain injury, HBOT forces much more oxygen than usual into damaged tissues. It enhances white blood cells’ ability to kill bacteria, reduces inflammation and swelling, and promotes tissue regeneration.
It’s important to note that there are no randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of HBOT for traumatic brain injury. It is because it would be impossible to arrange for a group of people to receive sham treatment.
HBOT was developed in the 1940s to treat decompression sickness, which occurs when nitrogen molecules build up too quickly from a pressurized environment to lower pressure. It also treats carbon monoxide poisoning, aspiration pneumonia, and wound infections.
What Are The Side Effects Of HBOT?
HBOT is safe and poses few risks when used according to established protocols. The most common side effect identified in the peer-reviewed literature is middle ear barotrauma (MEB), and this is usually mild, self-limited, and remedied with patient instruction on clearing the ears, daily monitoring of the middle ear, and appropriately fast compression rates.
During treatment, you lie on a gurney in a large, darkened chamber that is pressurized using 100% pure oxygen. You may feel the pressure change in your ears, similar to flying or scuba diving, and you might experience some fatigue and temporary changes in vision. These are the only significant side effects of HBOT.
How Can I Get HBOT?
Breathing 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber helps the body heal various conditions and illnesses. Originally used to treat decompression sickness (the bends) in scuba divers, HBOT involves sitting or lying down while breathing pure oxygen.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy accelerates healing by flooding the body with extra oxygen, breaking a cycle of swelling, deprivation of blood flow, and starvation of cells. It promotes new blood vessel growth and increases stem cell numbers eight-fold.
The FDA has approved HBOT to treat 14 medical conditions, and insurance covers these treatments. The specialists at Hyperbaric Medical Solutions offer both in-office and virtual HBOT sessions.