What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (also known as HBOT) is a method by which we a high concentration of oxygen to the entire body at greater than normal atmospheric pressure.  Oxygen is one of natures great healers, especially as it pertains to inflammation and injury in deep tissues (the brain and gastrointestinal for example). In general oxygen is known to accelerate the body’ natural ability to heal itself.

Hyperbaric chambers, used in hyperbaric therapy (HBOT), are any number of enclosures, which can be pressurized to allow a person inside to experience higher atmospheric pressures than the normal environmental pressures.  For example, a treatment at an elevation of 12,000 feet above sea level using a 4 psi (1.27 ATA) can simulate a decent of ~5,843 feet to 6,157 feet above sea level.

At higher elevations, the barometric pressure is lower.  This decrease of pressure also decreases the oxygenation of blood, and is known as anoxia—where molecules of oxygen exert less pressure on the walls of the alveoli (Dalton’s Law). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) follows this law.

How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy work?

Hyperbaria - Increased atmospheric pressure as a means of increasing
oxygen uptake without an enriched oxygen source
Hyperoxia - Increased total oxygen content

Hyperbaria is based on the concept of the relationship of gas pressure and uptake in liquids (blood, plasma and tissues).  Henry’s Law states that “a gas is dissolved by a liquid in direct proportion to its partial pressure.”  For example, at sea level, atmospheric pressure is 760 mm Hg, the oxygen concentration is 21% and the body’s oxygen content or partial pressure, pO2, in blood and plasma is ~ 40 mm Hg.

Red blood cells have a limitation as to how much oxygen can bind with hemoglobin.  The plasma portion of the blood typically has about a 3% oxygen concentration.

By placing someone in a 3 psi pressure hyperbaric environment, the increase in atmospheric pressure at sea level goes from 760 mm Hg to 915 mm Hg.  This increase in gas pressure, increases the partial pressure of the oxygen gas and thus forces more oxygen to be dissolved in the plasma.  This saturation of oxygen in the blood, due to the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or HBOT, allows the extra oxygen to be diffused or transported to the surrounding body tissues.  Thus, oxygen transport by plasma is significantly increased under hyperbaric therapy (HBOT).  At three atmospheres pressure, enough oxygen can be dissolved in the plasma to support the oxygen demands of the body at rest in the absence of hemoglobin!

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is designed to boost the supply of oxygen to ischemic tissue or to diseased tissues that respond to increased oxygen levels.  Increasing the volume of oxygen dissolved in the blood plasma, that is brought about by hyperbaric therapy (HBOT), produces five basic effects:

  • Reduction of volume of gas bubbles in the blood
  • Vasoconstriction, which reduces edema and secondary hypoxia
  • Restoration of aerobic metabolism to ischemic tissue
  • Detoxification of poisoned tissues
  • Enhanced phagocytosis

Henry’s Law- Henry’s law states that for a gas-liquid interface the amount of the gas that dissolves in the liquid is proportional to its partial pressure.  So Henry’s law helps to predict how much gas will be dissolved in the liquid.  The actual amount also depends on the solubility of the gas as well as its partial pressure.

Dalton’s Law-John Dalton observed that the total pressure of a gas mixture was the sum of the pressures of each of the gases if they were to exist on their own.

Several worthwhile phenomena occur in a hyperbaric oxygen environment that makes healing happen. For example:

  • Inflammation is reduced in deep tissue structures
  • body tissues and blood become saturated with oxygen
  • Increased production of stem or origination cells (promoting tissue regeneration where possible)
  • New capillaries are developed
  • Blood vessels dialate and circulation improves
  • Appears to supports and stimulate the immune system
  • Restores oxygen to oxygen deficient tissues
  • Assist with the repair of damaged tissue
  • Clinically reported to reduce pain (and inflammation)
  • Known to decreases edema and swelling
  • Known to fight infection with oxygen sensitive invading organisms
  • Aids in detoxification and reduces oxidation stress.

Many conditions have been successfully treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. For example:

  • Accelerate Healing
  • Adjunct to Physical Therapy
  • Anti Aging
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Auto Immune
  • Chronic Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Non Healing Wounds
  • Parkingson’s Disease
  • Pre/Post Surgical Procedures
  • Sports Injury
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • And many more…

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can bring hope to people when healing has not been found with conventional approaches. Sometimes what the body needs is a higher concentration of oxygen, a fuel that we all need.  It’s generally safe, when proper precautions are followed and has virtually no adverse side effects. The most beneficial way to undergo Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is to do so intensely over short time-frames. For example 2, 1 hour treatments daily for 30-60 days. Hence, our office makes this therapy available to patients via a home rental program. The unit fits easily in any home (as noted below) and is rented on a monthly basis.

If you would like to learn more about our HBOT rental program or have any questions, please feel free to contact us