Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

Anti-infective agent and treatment for problem wounds.

By increasing oxygen flow to healing sites and areas of impaired circulation, hyperbaric oxygen therapy promotes healing in soft tissue wounds, skin grafts, thermal burns, and diabetic foot wounds.  It acts as a bactericidal/bacteriostatic agent against anerobic bacteria in necrotic wounds by increasing the formation of free oxygen radicals.

Post-stroke therapy and neuro-rehabilitation.

Brain injury from ischemic stroke can be devastating, but full brain restoration is feasible. Time until treatment is critical; rapid rate of injury progression, logistical and personnel constraints on neurological and cardiovascular assessment, limitations of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) for thrombolysis, anticoagulation and antiplatelet interventions, and neuroprotection all affect outcome. Promising acute neuroprotectant measures include albumin, magnesium, and hypothermia. Long-term hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is safe and holds great promise.

‘It’s all about oxygen’- What is it about oxygen that is so important? We all know that we need an uninterrupted supply of it. If we are without oxygen for much longer than a minute or two, we are in trouble.. So why do we need it? What is it about oxygen that makes it so necessary.

‘It’s all about energy’- The basic reason we need oxygen is so that our cells can make energy. All living cells produce their own energy which is then used to accomplish whatever that cell’s specialized function might be. Some cells contract (e.g., heart muscle cells), others conduct electrical signals (nerve and brain cells). There are cells that are involved in fighting infections (immune system), others are involved in healing (fibroblasts). There are many different types of cells, and in a healthy individual, they all work together allowing the person to live, never aware of the innumerable biological reactions and functions that are constantly taking place. No matter what their specific role, each and every cell in your body requires energy to function. And energy requires the continuous and adequate availability of oxygen.

At sea level, the pressure of the air we breathe is 780 millimeters of mercury, which is defined as ‘one atmosphere’. About 21% of this air consists of oxygen. In a normal healthy individual, about 97% of inhaled oxygen is carried to the tissues by the hemoglobin present in red blood cells. Red blood cells, via the capillary network, carry and deliver this oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body. Any condition that restricts or interferes with normal blood flow will reduce the amount of available oxygen Because of this, these oxygen deprived cells are unable to produce a normal amount of energy and their function is impaired, sometimes to the point of cell death. However, by artificially increasing the surrounding atmospheric pressure, air (and thus oxygen) will go into solution in the fluid portion of the blood and tissues. This is the basis of how hyperbaric oxygen works. As mentioned, room air contains about 21% oxygen. If an individual simultaneously breathes a higher concentration of oxygen, more will be delivered to the tissues and cells of the body. The term ‘Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO or HBOT) refers to the delivery of oxygen at higher (hyper) than normal pressures (baric).
HBOT has traditionally been used for only the most serious health related conditions. These have included major infections, difficult to heal wounds, severe burns, and other life-threatening conditions.

A common situation where HBOT can be particularly helpful is any type of wound or tissue healing, including post-operative surgery. HBOT can also be of significant benefit in the treatment (or prevention) of infections. The basic method by which the cells of our immune system destroy viruses and bacteria involves what is called an ‘oxidative burst’. When the body is fighting any type of infection the demand for oxygen by these cells is significantly increased.

Additionally, both wounds and infections are generally accompanied by tissue swelling which can further impair normal capillary circulation. Utilizing the modality of HBOT, more oxygen can be made available to the cells, and wound healing, as well as healing of infections, can be facilitated and enhanced.

The equipment, staff, and facilities necessary to safely deliver oxygen at higher pressures has resulted in limited availability and use of this valuable modality. Recently, the availability of hyperbaric oxygen treatment has become possible in a convenient, office-based format. This modality has been termed ‘mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy’ (mHBOT). Whereas pressures in conventional, hospital-based HBO units can go as high as 4 atmospheres, in mHBOT, pressures are limited to between 1.3 to 1.5 atmospheres. These lower pressures, while offering significantly enhanced tissue oxygenation, do not require the elaborate and expensive technology and other measures necessary in higher pressure treatment situations. Thus, mHBOT is ideally suited for the treatment of less serious wounds, infections, and other conditions where increased oxygen availability would be beneficial.

Elective (non-emergency) surgery is an excellent example of the value of mHBOT. As a result of the surgical incision(s) and local swelling, normal capillary circulation to the healing wound region is reduced. This impairment of blood supply leads to a decrease in oxygen availability to the cells in the area of healing tissue. Utilizing mHBOT, more oxygen is made directly available to the affected cells and can allow the the healing process to function more efficiently. The end result is more rapid and effective wound healing.

More and more discoveries are being made related to the medical applications of conventional and mild hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Other areas of intense interest and research relate to the use of mHBOT in neurological disorders, such as stroke, brain injury, and chemical toxicity. As the future unfolds, further practical applications for all forms of HBOT will continue to be developed.


For more information please call our office. 805-963-1824

More great information…
International Hyperbaric Medicine Association

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Posted on

July 13, 2015