The Role Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers provide the benefits of staying in an environment with controlled pressure: the pressure is greater than the atmospheric pressure.
It is called hyperbaric oxygen therapy (OTI) and consists in the therapeutic use of oxygen (100% pure) at a higher than atmospheric pressure, this therapy makes use of particular “chambers” where temperature, pressure and oxygenation are controlled, so we speak of hyperbaric chambers. Hyperbaric medicine was born as a branch of underwater medicine.
The chamber comes with controlled temperature, pressure and oxygenation. In particular, the pressure levels are far superior to those present in the environment.
The benefits linked to hyperbaric therapy are many and all concern the oxygenation of tissues at controlled pressure. For this reason we speak of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood, so as to oxygenate the tissues more quickly. This approach is useful in case of hemoglobin capacity disorders. These include the following:
Increased tissue oxygen tension involves blood erythrocytes (red blood cells) that pass even the semi-reconstructed vascular layers.
Increased capillary transudation, useful for deflating a vasogenic edema.
Vasoconstriction action, useful in the treatment of cerebral edema, to remove the stagnation of blood and organic fluids in the brain area.
Increase the speed of biochemical reactions that lead to the formation of compounds with cytocidal action (superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical and singlet oxygen), useful for increasing the activity of leukocytes (corpuscles that are part of our immune defenses).
Improvement of osteocyte function, neovascularization. This can also be useful for slowing down the process of osteoporosis, osteomyelitis and osteonecrosis and in delayed callus formation.
It performs bacteriocidal and bacteriostatic activity not only by the leukocyte mechanisms but also directly by free radicals and with high oxygen tensions capable of eliminating clostridium perfringens.
To detoxify the body in case of continuous exposure to carbon monoxide, cyanides and other toxic methaemoglobinizers that block cellular respiration. Increased nerve conduction velocity, useful against demyelinating diseases (myelopathies, panencephalitis, adrenomyeloneuropathy, Krabbe disease and many other disorders that thin the myelin sheath that surrounds many nerve fibers).
Antispasmodic and analgesic action
Thanks to the benefits listed above, the hyperbaric chamber can also be useful in case of skin or bone infections that cause tissue death, wounds that are slow to heal (radiation injuries, wounds in the presence of diabetes), sudden deafness and burns serious.
There are also applications with uncertain but promising results that see the use of the hyperbaric chamber to treat allergies, improve conditions in cases of Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, cirrhosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries and others experimental applications.
How it works
The hyperbaric chamber exploits the principle of oxygenation. Oxygen therapy consists of the administration, using special dispensers, of a highly concentrated gaseous mixture of oxygen.
Oxygen, in the hyperbaric chamber, is treated in the same way as other drugs, is administered to obtain certain effects and the controlled pressure facilitates its diffusion in our body.
Oxygen reaches all body tissues by exploiting an important vector: the blood (in particular the red blood cells). The blood, supplying the tissues, provides all the metabolites they need to sustain and function at their best.
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers must be excluded in the case of pneumothorax or COPD because in these situations excessive oxygenation can cause the development of fatal medical conditions (penumothoracic tension). Another contraindication concerns the pharmacological basis: people who have recently stopped or are on drug therapy with cisplatin, disulfiram, mafenide or dixorubicin, cannot undergo hyperbaric therapy.
There are also other contraindications that should be discussed with your specialist doctor, among other barotraumatic otitis, high fever, certaintypes of cancer.
In the past the risks were considerable, today, the use of the current hyperbaric chambers represents a safe medical practice as stated by the Undersea Medical Society.