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What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is the medical use of oxygen at a level higher than atmospheric pressure. The equipment required consists of a pressure chamber, and a means of delivering 100% oxygen to body cells.

HBOT enhances the body’s natural healing process by raising the oxygen level in the patient’s bloodstream many times above normal, which helps control infections and promote healing in many kinds of illness or injury.

HBOT is recognized by Medicare in the United States as a reimbursable treatment for 14 UHMS ‘approved’ conditions.

What are the benefits of HBOT?

For a detailed list of benefits – see: www.hboinfo.com HBOT Science / HBOT Benefit.

Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids, the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and bone and can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked. In this way, extra oxygen can reach all of the damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process.

The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces local swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas in a simple, noninvasive and painless treatment.

It has long been known that healing many areas of the body cannot take place without appropriate oxygen levels in the tissue. Most illness and injuries occur and often linger at the cellular or tissue level. In many cases, such as in circulatory problems, in non-healing wounds and in strokes, adequate oxygen cannot reach the damaged area and the body’s natural healing ability is unable to function properly.

What conditions can be treated?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has helped thousands of people with conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and other brain disorders – see: www.hboinfo.com Publications / Scientific Abstracts.

By delivering high levels of oxygen under pressure, hypoxic tissue can be restored allowing healing to take place.

14 clinical indications have been accepted for premarket review and clearance of hyperbaric chambers:

  • Air or Gas Embolism
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Complicated By Cyanide Poisoning
  • Clostridial Myositis and Myonecrosis (Gas Gangrene)
  • Crush Injury, Compartment Syndrome and Other Acute Traumatic Ischemias
  • Decompression Sickness
  • Enhancement of Healing In Selected Problem Wounds
  • Severe Anemia
  • Intracranial Abscess
  • Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections
  • Osteomyelitis (Refractory)
  • Delayed Radiation Injury (Soft Tissue and Bony Necrosis)
  • Compromised Grafts and Flaps
  • Acute Thermal Burn Injury
  • Ideopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Source: Food and Drug Administration

However, not all hyperbaric chambers qualify for all indications because the actual performance of each hyperbaric chamber may not be acceptable for every indication. Marketing of the use of a hyperbaric chamber is expected to conform to the product label, based upon information that the FDA has determined as safe and effective use of the device.

The FDA “acceptance” is for the premarket 510-K “Clearance to market the chambers.” Consequently, the chambers with this 510-K cannot be promoted as a “cure” for any other malady or injury. However, “off-label” prescriptive use of such a 510-K chamber is lawful.

The Sands Series III hyperbaric chamber is fully endorsed by The Gracie Pridmore Foundation and has full 510-K “Clearance to market the chambers”.

Is it legal to treat conditions?

Absolutely! A licensed physician can use best-care medical judgment and is lawfully allowed to prescribe HBOT for illnesses other than the 14 conditions listed above.

Because the FDA views oxygen-under-pressure as a drug, a prescription from a registered Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) is mandatory for all patients. Note: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician.

Is HBOT covered by Health Insurance?

HBOT is an FDA and Medicare approved method of treatment for many illnesses. Medicare, Blue Shield Blue Cross and all other private insurance companies now recognise at least 14 different conditions for which HBOT is recommended as either primary or secondary treatment. HBOT, however, is not an FDA approved treatment for neurological conditions as yet. As a result there are few centres and physicians that provide this valuable therapy.

What is the treatment process like?

In a monoplace chamber, one person at a time is treated and the entire body is exposed to oxygen saturation, whereas in the multi-place chamber where more than one person is treated at the same time, a hood is used for each patient.

Inside the chamber, the patient will be experience the changing pressure which is the same as that felt in an airplane when ascending or landing. Prior to the treatment, the patient is instructed in techniques of equalising the ear/sinus pressure by yawning, swallowing, or attempting to blow through the nose while holding it shut.

During the treatment the individual will be breathing 100% oxygen, dispersing oxygen into the blood plasma and delivering up to 15 times as much oxygen to tissues as would breathing room air. The treatment length is usually 60–90 minutes, depending on the diagnosis and the physician’s determination of treatment. Trained technicians closely monitor the patient. From inside the chamber the patient can communicate with the attending technician, as well as watch TV, listen to music, or just take a nap.

Do I need to prepare for a treatment?

There are some minimal requirements. Only 100% cotton gown – which is supplied – is permitted in the chamber. No cosmetics, perfumes, deodorants, hair preparations, wigs or jewelry are worn during the treatments. Patients are advised not to take carbonated drinks or alcohol for at least four hours prior to each treatment, and that they should give up smoking and tobacco products, as these interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen. Don’t try to smuggle things into the chamber! Contraband will only reduce your treatment time, and could harm your health.

Will HBOT help Trauma and PTSD?

HBOT can relieve the symptoms of trauma and PTSD. For veterans, these conditions are often caused by explosive devices, motor vehicle accidents, and/or falls. Many military-related injuries of the brain can be traced back to Improvised Explosive Devices (lEDs). Breathing the pressurized oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber raises oxygen levels in the brain, boosts the health of damaged cells, and improves brain function.

The Gracie Pridmore Foundation is able to provide HBO therapy at a much lower cost than what has traditionally been available.

What are the contraindications of HBOT?

Some preexisting conditions or concurrent therapies can present contraindications to HBOT. Upper respiratory infections and chronic sinusitis make it difficult for the patient to clear his/her ears. Often decongestants are used to open the sinuses, and occasionally surgical myringotomy is necessary to maintain open Eustachian tubes. Sometimes it is better to interrupt treatment for three or four days to allow the respiratory infection to clear.

High fever can predispose to oxygen seizures but in such cases drugs can be given to lower the fever. In some patients with severe emphysema and COPD, the only stimulus to breathe is hypoxemia, as they have lost their sensitivity to normal levels of C02. These patients may cease breathing if placed in the hyperbaric chamber.

Patients who have a lower than normal seizure threshold may be more prone to develop seizures due to oxygen toxicity. If HBOT treatment is a requirement, additional anticonvulsants can be added to these patients’ regimens.

HBOT is absolutely contraindicated for patients with pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, and caution is used with HBOT treatment if a patient has a history of spontaneous pneumothorax.

If a woman is pregnant, caution is required, so please let your HBOT Technician know if you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant.

What are the possible side effects of HBOT?

Barotrauma or ear and sinus discomfort. A patient may experience fullness and an uncomfortable pressure in the ears. This can be relieved by slowing the rate of descent/ascent so that the patient is comfortable with the change in pressure. Also, decongestants taken prior to treatment are sometimes helpful.

Oxygen toxicity may occur in rare cases, when therapy is given at more than 2.4 ATA. This is minimized by not exposing the patient to greater pressure or longer times than are known to be safe for the body and its organs. A thorough overview of oxygen toxicity can be seen at www.hboinfo.com HBOT Science / Oxygen Toxicity.

Some patients are susceptible to high 02 partial pressures. Treatment is the discontinuance of HBOT.

Serous otitis. Rarely, fluid accumulates in the ears as a result of changes in pressure in the ears and sinuses resulting in a possible ruptured membrane. Treatment is the discontinuance of HBOT and a referral to an ENT physician.

Temporary worsening of nearsightedness (myopia). After twenty or more treatments, especially if the patient is over forty years of age, it is possible to experience a temporary diminution in the ability to focus on things far away. This is temporary and vision typically returns to its pre-treatment level about six weeks after cessation of therapy. It is not advisable to get a new prescription for glasses until at least eight weeks have passed after hyperbaric therapy.

Temporary improvement in farsightedness (presbyopia).

Also, after twenty or more treatments, especially if the patent is over forty years of age, there is a possibility to experience an improvement in the ability to see things close up or to read without glasses. However, this is temporary and the vision should return to its previous level of acuity in about six weeks following cessation of hyperbaric treatment.

Numb fingers. A small portion of patients sometimes notice a numb feeling in the fourth and fifth fingers of the hands after twenty or more treatments. This should not be of concern and should disappear within about six weeks following cessation of therapy.

When can I get started?

Under US law, all Hyperbaric treatment requires a prescription by a qualified Medical Practitioner. Fill out our electronic application form (from the menu) and a qualified representative will contact you shortly. If you have any further questions, feel free to phone the number listed at the bottom of this page. We look forward to meeting you!

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