Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a mode of therapy in which a person breathes 100% oxygen inside a hyperbaric chamber at a pressure greater than normal.
This allows extra oxygen to be transported via blood fluid (plasma) in addition to that delivered conventionally by hemoglobin, red blood cells.
The therapy is proven effective in a variety of medical conditions, either as a primary health care or in addition to other medical treatments such as antibiotics or surgery.
The air we breathe contains 21% of oxygen at sea level. When breathing pure oxygen at pressures higher than normal additional “hyperbaric” oxygen dissolves in the blood plasma greatly increasing the quantity of oxygen transferred to any tissue in the body. This additional oxygen will penetrate into areas otherwise depleted of oxygen or blood supply due to injury or chronic problems.
At BaroMedical hyperbaric oxygen is delivered inside a clear acrylic cylinder – a “hyperbaric chamber”, designed for individual sessions for one person at a time. The chamber is filled with 100% oxygen, circulating at high flow and pressure, providing the full benefit of the therapy in a comfortable environment.
When breathing the oxygen atmosphere inside the chamber there is no need for a mask or a hood.
BaroMedical’s chambers are certified for operation up to 3 atmospheres for which hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven effective and safe in infection control and wound healing.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally painless and without any discomfort. In fact, it is quite enjoyable and relaxing to the point where we might have to wake you up at the end of a session.
At the beginning of the treatment, when the pressure is increased, as well as at the end when the pressure is decreased and brought to normal, you will feel a pressure change in your ears. Prior to treatments we will teach you how to equalize the pressure. Fullness and popping in your ears upon change in pressure might feel similar to driving up a mountain. During the rest of the treatment, usually 1 ½ to 2 hours long, you can listen to music, watch TV or snooze it off if you wish.
Increased concentration of oxygen combined with increased pressure greatly increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood and thereby the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues.
Hyperbaric oxygen offers distinct therapeutic effects:
- Increases oxygen delivery to injured tissues
- Stops further tissue damage
- Prevents and/or reduces infection<
- Reduces swelling
- Improves immune system response
- Improves blood vessel formation
- Promotes wound healing
- Increases bone recovery
- Improves peripheral nerve regeneration
- Eliminates toxic substances
- Reduces effects from toxic substances
- Increases the effect of some antibiotics
- Reduces muscle spasm
- Increases muscular force and reduces fatigue
- Relieves the pain
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is proven effective for various acute or chronic conditions where oxygen supply to tissues is compromised or infection is taking place. Some of the most common chronic conditions successfully addressed with hyperbaric oxygen are:
- Non-healing and infected wound – ulcers
- diabetic ulcers (prevention of amputation)
- venous and arterial insufficiency ulcers
- pressure sores from wheel chair or bed rest confinement
- Bone infections such as osteomyelitis
- Radiation injury
- necrosis of bone or soft tissue in patients being treated for cancer
- Bacterial infections (subcutaneous, muscle, fascia)
- Burns (improved tissue salvage, fast recovery and minimal scarring)
- Frostbites (treated in time can save limbs from amputation)
- Carbon monoxide, cyanide poisoning, smoke inhalation
- Extreme loss of blood or anemia – when blood transfusion is not an option
In acute cases, such as air/gas embolism and decompression sickness, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the primary health care method.
Please see a more detailed list of medical conditions here.
The number of session is individualized to each person. The hyperbaric health care team at BaroMedical will discuss a planned course of therapy with you at the initial consultation. The exact number of sessions will depend on your response to hyperbaric oxygen tests and measurements of microcirculation. You and your referring healthcare provider will continuously be informed on your progress.
Sessions may be provided twice a day up to seven days a week. For out of town clients we have arranged good rates for accommodation in at nearby hotels.
BaroMedical is using the latest equipment to asses your progress. Microcirculation is monitored with Laser Doppler and Transcutaneous Tissue Oxygen Monitor.
BaroMedical’s feeschedule is listed here.
Although the Medical Service Plan of British Columbia is currently acknowledging the benefits and use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a limited set of conditions no direct coverage is presently provided outside Vancouver General Hospitals hyperbaric unit. Some private insurance companies offering extended health care packages will provide coverage for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
There are very few possible side effects involved with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Occasionally we see a bit of irritation of the middle ear. It can show redness and swelling after a session and be the cause of a slight hissing or ringing sound in the hours after a session. There are also certain risks involved with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Upon acceptance for hyperbaric therapy you will be well informed of those risks and given material and orientation of our facility. Our establishment and staff is highly trained and your safety and comfort is our main responsibility.