What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also known as HBOT, is a medical treatment that delivers medical grade oxygen to a patient's pulmonary system while they are within a pressurized chamber. Basically, the patient is breathing oxygen at levels far greater than that which is found at a normal room atmosphere.
HBOT is based on numerous laws of physics. "Henry's Law" states that the amount of a gas dissolved in a liquid is in proportion to the pressure of the gas above the liquid, provided that no chemical action occurs. "Boyle's Law" states that at constant temperature, the volume and the pressure of a gas are inversely proportional. This means a gas will compress proportionately to the amount of pressure exerted on it. Using these laws, HBOT allows more life-sustaining oxygen to be delivered to the tissues and organs. This increase of the partial pressure of oxygen at the cellular level accelerates the healing processes and assists in the recovery from numerous indications.
HBOT is SAFE! Side effects are minimal and rarely last a long time. Hyperbaric Oxygen is not a cure to most indications but it has been clearly demonstrated to dramatically increase immune capabilities, assisting patients with problems ranging from chronic wounds to complex disabilities and neurological impairment. Taking this information into account, there are currently 14 approved indications in America.
The Mechanisms of HBOT
The Mechanical Effects of Pressure:
When we pressurize you to 2 ATA in our chamber you will have a total of (947 x 14.7) 13,920 pounds of pressure on your body. The mechanical effects of pressure cause an immediate reduction of edema (swelling). Edema prevents oxygenation of insult sites; by reducing edema, we achieve a dramatic increase in blood flow, resulting in super-oxygenation of the insult site, which promotes healing.
Total Gas Wash-Out:
After 15 minutes (on oxygen) at a minimal treatment depth (1.75 ATA) the body experiences “total gas wash-out” which means that all of the nitrogen has been eliminated from every cell in the body.
The inert gas has been replaced by oxygen and the plasma is super saturated with oxygen.
It is possible to measure shifts in the dissolved oxygen (at the cellular level) at 15-20 times what could be achieved by breathing oxygen at the surface (atmospheric pressure).
Super-Elevated Oxygen Consumption:
A “standard man” breathes approximately 4 pounds of oxygen in a day. If we could capture this daily oxygen consumption and put it in a balloon it would weigh 4 pounds. After a single HBOT treatment (1 x 2 hour or 2 x 1 hour) the balloon would weigh 14-16 pounds.
This massive shift in dissolved oxygen at the cellular level will kill any obligate anaerobic bacteria.
Exposure to the hyperbaric oxygen environment facilitates detoxification. When we take the toxic load from the equation, healing is accelerated. The massive shifts in po2 in the plasma (and at the cellular level) give the body “defensive traction”.
Reduction of Penumbra:
In cases where neurons in the brain have been damaged (CP, stroke, or TBI) HBOT has been proven to reduce the size and scope of the penumbra. When we shrink the penumbra we activate idling neurons.
These idling neurons can be “re-trained” to perform their original function. HBOT in combination with PT, OT, and ST is extremely effective.
Angiogenesis & Neurogenesis:
Finally, when a 40-hour/20 day series of HBOT treatments have been completed the body attempts to replicate the oxygen saturation levels achieved during HBOT. The mechanism implemented by the body is Angiogenesis. The body starts to build hundreds of miles of new blood vessels, which carry blood to oxygen/nutrient starved tissues.
Additionally, a process known as Neurogenesis (the birth of neurons) is implemented which causes new neurons in the brain to develop.
Both Angiogenesis and Neurogenesis take about three weeks to be fully implemented.
Stem Cell Mobilization
Recent studies have resulted in exciting developments tying HBOT to stem cell mobilization. A University of Pennsylvania Stem Cell Mobilization study has offered scientific proof that 40 hyperbaric exposures at 2.0 Atmospheres Absolute (ATA) for two hours per day causes a cascade of CD34+ stem cells (a total increase of 800%) from the bone marrow into the bloodstream. These are clearly superior stem cells because they are keyed with the patient's own DNA and are "age appropriate." Increase the exposure to 2.5 ATA and significantly more stem cells are mobilized into the blood stream by factors of 1.9 to 3-fold after the 10th and before and after the 20th treatments. That's up to 2400% more stem cells mobilized from the bone marrow into the blood stream!
Follow these links to learn more about the effects of HBOT on CD34 stem cell mobilization.