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What is HBOT?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy “HBOT” is a prescribed treatment approved by the FDA and AMA in which a person breathes 100% medical grade oxygen while under increased pressure. “Hyper” means increased and “baric” relates to pressure.  At Hyperbarics of Sun Valley treatments are given in a mono-place (single occupancy) or multi-place chamber.  During treatment the patient can relax by watching a movie, listening to music or just rest.  It is a non-evasive, safe method of administering pure oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure to a patient in order to improve or correct certain conditions.  Providing oxygen in a pressurized chamber allows the delivery of 10-15 times more oxygen than if it was delivered at sea level or at normal atmospheric pressure.

HBOT has been proven effective in the conventional treatment for decompression sickness, severe carbon monoxide poisoning, certain wounds or injuries, skin infections, as well as delayed radiation injury and certain bone or brain infections.  Sessions can last from 60 minutes to two hours during which the patient may experience ear popping or mild discomfort, these can both be alleviated by equalizing the pressure somewhat.  At this juncture the FDA classifies oxygen as a drug and requires a prescription by a physician or licensed health care provider.  Most health insurance policies including Medicare and Medicaid cover medically approved uses of HBOT.  Throughout the treatment session the patient is fully monitored by the HBOT technician.

Why is Oxygen so important?

Oxygen is a colorless, odorless gas that makes up about 21 percent of the atmosphere. It is essential to life for two reasons:

  • Oxygen is one of the body’s basic building blocks. All of the body’s major components, water, protein, carbohydrate and fat contain oxygen.
  • Oxygen helps bring about certain chemical reactions within the body that result in energy production.  Energy is needed for functions such as circulation, respiration and digestion. Energy is also used to maintain a constant body temperature.

How does HBOT allow more oxygen to be absorbed into the bloodstream and tissues?

Blood is made up of three main components:  white cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen, and plasma, the fluid that carries both kinds of cells throughout the body.  Under normal circumstances, only the red blood cells carry oxygen.  However, because HBOT allows more oxygen into the body under pressure, oxygen dissolves into all of the body’s fluids, including the plasma, the lymphatic fluids, and the cerebrospinal fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord. These fluids can carry the extra oxygen even to areas where circulation is poor or blocked, either by trickling past the blockages or by seeping into the affected area.

This extra oxygen helps in the healing process and enhances the white blood cells ability to fight infection.  It can promote the development of new capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that connect arteries to veins.  It also helps the body build new connective tissue.  In addition, HBOT helps the organs function in a normal manner.

Recent studies from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, are showing that a typical course of HBOT increases by eight-fold the number of stem cells circulating in a patient’s body.  Stem cells are crucial to injury repair (article attached).

As we age, we can lose vital lung capacity and the ability to effectively obtain adequate oxygen.  Some disease conditions impair oxygen utilization.  In addition, with injuries or conditions where there is swelling or edema, this causes pressure within the tissue, which cuts off circulation flow.