Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a gentle and natural way to increase the level of oxygen in the body to stimulate cell growth and repair damage to cells and organs. Here Nick Roddy, head of operations of HYBO2, a new hyperbaric oxygen therapy clinic based in Winchester, UK, discusses the range of heath benefits derived from using a HybO2 hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
Long COVID has accelerated raising of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in the public consciousness as a therapy that exists beyond the obscure world of diving medicine. Many claims are being made on social media and in the press for the efficacy of HBOT with home chambers already the celebrity “must have”.
In HBOT patients breathe pure or close to pure oxygen or in a pressurised chamber. The pressure and concentration cause the oxygen to dissolve more readily into blood plasma; it is therefore theoretically possible to deliver as much as twelve times more oxygen into the body’s fluids and tissues than usually occurs.
The principle behind HBOT, is the increased availability of Oxygen induces a boost in the release of energy in cells throughout the body (via adenosine triphosphate), reduces inflammation, eightfold increase in stem-cell circulation, enhances immune function and formation of new blood vessels. Based on this principle there are presently thirteen conditions approved for treatment, by the US Food and Drug Administration and European Committee of Hyperbaric Medicine; including decompression sickness and non-healing and avascular wounds. HBOT is increasingly used in Military medicine for crush injuries, traumatic wounds, exceptional loss of blood, hypovolemia (Van Meter 2005, Bartlett2008), burns (Wada et al 1966, Ketchum et al 1967 Winter and Perrins 1970).
There is considerable anecdotal evidence that a diverse range of conditions respond exceedingly well to hyperbaric therapy, either as a primary or adjuvant treatment. Although hard data is scarce; double-blind trials are logistically problematic and prohibitively expensive. (Goldman 2009: Esks et al 2010). The unique situation of the Soviet Union, allowed considerable experimentation into different fields that may have required more oversight and legislation elsewhere, resulting in extensive research in HBOT in obstetrics (Molzhninov 1981, Vaniena 1981 Vaniena1977) and other conditions rarely linked to HBOT.
The growth of HBOT in professional sport is largely driven by anecdotal evidence from Athletes, though Ishii et al (2005) Fischer et al. (1988) and James 1993 clearly identified potential benefits. Sports such as Rugby (impact injury, muscle strain and fatigue) and the marginal gains endurance sports, like professional cycling, have seen a substantial uptake in the use of HBOT for both training support and recovery. Boxing and other combat sports, notably MMA, have also seen a large increase in using HBOT to support training and for post-fight recovery as has American Football.
HBOT should be delivered by trained professionals. Much of the available expertise in the delivery and management of hyperbaric environments still comes from the Commercial Diving and Tunnelling industries, where strict standards are compulsory. There is however, a growing democratisation of knowledge and experience, yet the industry needs to work together to develop and maintains the standards at the point of delivery.
As supplier of HBOT our Clients have report significant improvements in their health and well-being after treatments, whether primary or adjuvant. The groundswell of interest and experience will hopefully lead to further research funding and increased availability of HBOT across the board.