Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (or ‘HBOT’) is not something you might have heard of, other than in its’ use treating divers with ‘the bends’. It’s even less likely that you’ve considered it for your own family or pets! But now it’s available right here at Whole Family Health.
But how does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work?
Basically, our hyperbaric oxygen therapy machine uses an oxygen concentrator to increase the concentration of oxygen in the air that you’re breathing while in our HBOT chamber. This, plus increasing the pressure that your body is exposed to (equivalent to diving around 3.5m below sea level) means that the amount of oxygen dissolved in your blood is also increased while you’re in our hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber. This combination allows oxygen to get further into tissues than it normally can, meaning that areas of the body that are normally deprived of oxygen aren’t, which promotes healing, decreases swelling and inflammation, increases production of antioxidants, modulates the immune system and stimulates the growth of new blood vessels.
There is therefore a wide range of conditions that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be beneficial for, but (like many areas of medicine) science is struggling to keep pace with the rapid development of technology.
We must therefore ensure that our treatments are as absolutely safe as possible, and that we critically evaluate what little research there is on the uses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in pets and people who aren’t divers.
So, how do we do everything we can to ensure that your family’s experience with hyperbaric oxygen is as safe as possible? Firstly, we chose our machine for its’ wide range of safety features. For example, one risk of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is carbon dioxide build-up – our machine has a port that ensures that carbon dioxide is flushed out of the system while it’s in use. Our machine also doesn’t ‘overpressurise’ – the dose of pressure is not so high that the risk of ‘barotrauma’ is overly high. Lower dose hyperbaric oxygen therapy also means that we can depressurise more rapidly should anyone in your family become distressed while in the chamber.
However, we do everything we can to reduce the likelihood that anyone is distressed: for pets, we have an owner lie in the chamber with them (two for the price of one!) and encourage the pet to remain calm by feeding them treats, playing with squeaky toys, etc. For children, we have a parent, carer or therapist lie in the chamber with them. The adult may read a story to the child, massage the child, play a game with the child or any other activity that the child enjoys and can do lying down. Lots of kids are excited to get to have a turn in the ‘spaceship’ as we have nicknamed it, and enjoy making up stories about being an astronaut and where they’re journeying to in their spaceship today! For adults, we can have a pet in the chamber with you so you can pat it to help keep you comfortable, or you can snooze, read a book or have a friend or family member in with you to keep you company.
In all cases, we always have a staff member in the room with you while you have hyperbaric oxygen therapy. We will run through the emergency stop procedure with you prior to switching it on (emergency stops are accessible both from inside and outside the chamber) and give you a walkie-talkie to communicate with us (although we can clearly hear all but the quietest voices – it tends to make it a little more fun to have buttons to press, especially when we’re working with children!) We also have a little machine called a pulse oximeter that goes on your finger and tells us how saturated with oxygen your blood is.
Our standard hyperbaric oxygen therapy dose is for 20 minutes, although some people and pets need to work up to this time. We limit the session to 20 minutes to reduce the risk of creating ‘oxygen toxicity’ which can lead to seizures – basically, we do everything we can to maximise your safety and enjoyment while using our hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber.
If you would like more information on how the chamber might benefit your individual circumstances, please feel only too welcome to contact us – as we said, it’s a new field, so we appreciate that most people have lots and lots of questions about it!