What is Hyperbaric Therapy?

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Hyperbaric Solutions - Helping the Healing through Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.






What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen Transport in the Body

To understand how hyperbaric therapy (HBO) works we must first understand how oxygen is normally distributed throughout our bodies. Blood is the chief means of transport within the body. It transports oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs. It transports nutrients (glucose) to the tissues and removes waste products to the kidneys and other organs for excretion.

Blood is composed of two parts: (1) plasma, the fluid portion, and (2) formed elements, the blood cells and platelets suspended in the fluid. Plasma accounts for about 55 per cent of the total volume of blood most of which is water (92%).Blood cells and platelets , the remaining 45 per cent, is made up of erythrocytes (red blood cells) , leukocytes (white blood cells) and platelets (thrombocytes). The erythrocytes are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. They owe their carrying ability to “hemoglobin” a combination of an iron-containing prosthetic group, heme, with a protein, globin. Hemoglobin attracts and forms a loose connection with free oxygen , and in its presence enables blood to absorb some 60 times the amount of oxygen that the plasma itself absorbs. Oxyhemoglobin is red, which gives blood its red color.

Red blood cells are stored in the spleen which acts as a reservoir for the blood system and discharges cells into the blood as required. The spleen also discharges red blood cells into the blood during emergencies such as a hemorrhage or shock.

Definition of HBO

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) is defined as breathing 100% oxygen while in an enclosed system pressurized to greater than one atmosphere (sea level). Breathing 100% oxygen at atmospheric pressure or applying topical oxygen without enclosing the entire patient in a pressurized chamber does not produce the same effects and is not recognized as hyperbaric therapy.

What does HBO do?

Low tissue oxygen levels (hypoxia), usually related to impaired blood circulation within damaged tissues , does not allow for the tissues to regenerate or heal. HBO increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream up to 10-13 times normal levels. The increased oxygen level in the blood provides immediate support to injured tissue areas to promote the growth of new blood vessels, purge toxins from the body and enhance the killing of bacteria within the body.

In complex wounds low oxygen levels in the tissue surrounding the exposed area of the wound prevent the healing process to start. HBO provides the required oxygen for microcirculation and reduces the swelling (edema) to allow the healing to occur.

In the case of exceptional blood loss (red cell mass) HBO can support the required oxygen for the body until the red cells are replaced.

In the case of infectious diseases (anthrax, flesh-eating, etc.) the bacteriostatic and bacteriocidal effects on bacteria have been well demonstrated and documented.

What Happens During a HBO Session?

During a HBO session the patient is placed in a pressurized chamber and breathes 100% oxygen under pressures 1 to 3 times atmospheric pressures for sessions of 60-120 minutes depending upon the condition being treated. The air you are currently breathing contains only 19-21% oxygen. The main benefit to a true HBO session comes from the fact the patient breathes 100% oxygen under a pressure greater than atmospheric. Breathing 100% oxygen at atmospheric pressure is not HBO.

The HBO chamber has a built-in intercom allowing the patient and clinic attendant to stay in constant communication. The patient has clear visibility of the surroundings and may be taken out at any time if required. During a session the patient may watch TV or take a nap.

The number of treatments and hence cost is dependent upon the condition being treated and the patient’s overall health when starting the HBO sessions.

Hyperbaric Solutions operates fully approved and registered HBO facilities in the Province of Ontario.

UHMS Approved Indications