What’s the difference between Hard and Soft Hyperbaric Chambers?
Learn which type of hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber is right for you
Before you begin hyperbaric oxygen therapy, it’s important to understand the different types of treatment available. At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, we’re committed to giving you all the information you need to make an informed decision before you begin your healing journey.
How can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy help?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) works by exposing the body to an atmosphere of 100% oxygen, in an enclosed chamber where the atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled.
The benefits of HBOT are well-documented, including:
- Speeding up the body’s healing by increasing tissue oxygen levels in areas of injury or illness
- Supporting faster wound healing
- Reducing swelling that may occur around damaged areas
- Stimulating new blood vessel growth and increased blood flow
- Elevating the body’s natural immune defenses to fight infection and bacteria
- Boosting your supply of circulating stem cells.
What you might not know is that there are different types of hyperbaric chambers, and the health benefits they can offer vary greatly.
What is a Soft Hyperbaric Chamber?
Also known as mild hyperbaric chambers or portable hyperbaric chambers, these inflatable bag chambers cannot achieve internal pressures of over 1.3 atmospheres.
Scientific studies of the effectiveness of HBOT are only conducted at pressures starting at 1.5 atmospheres, so the health benefits of these soft hyperbaric chambers cannot be accurately measured.
Soft hyperbaric chambers are authorized by the FDA only for the treatment of acute mountain sickness. It’s currently not known whether these types of chambers can help with other medical conditions.
What is a Hard Hyperbaric Chamber?
Hard hyperbaric chambers are capable of reaching much higher pressures than soft hyperbaric chambers.
There are two types:
Monoplace hyperbaric chambers are built to fit one patient at a time. They are gradually pressurized and filled with pure oxygen while the patient lies down and relaxes. Monoplace chambers can pressurize up to 3.0 atmospheres.
Multiplace hyperbaric chambers are larger hyperbaric chambers the size of a room that can fit multiple patients at one time. Multiplace chambers are filled with room air while a patient breathes oxygen through a hood or a mask. These chambers are typically found in hospitals and are most commonly used more in emergency situations.
Hard hyperbaric chambers are approved by the FDA to treat many medical conditions. Additionally, HBOT is approved by Medicare to treat the following conditions:
- Air or Gas Embolism
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Chronic Osteomyelitis
- Compartment Syndrome/Crush Injury/Other Traumatic Ischemias
- Compromised Skin Grafts and Flaps
- Decompression Sickness (Bends)
- Diabetic and Selected Wounds
- Exceptional Blood Loss (Anemia)
- Gas Gangrene
- Intracranial Abscess
- Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection
- Osteoradionecrosis and Radiation Tissue Damage
- Thermal Burns
HBOT administered in hard hyperbaric chambers can also help with the following off-label conditions:
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Near Drowning
- Recovery from Plastic Surgery
- Sports Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Anoxic Brain Injury
- Avascular Necrosis
- Cerebral Palsy
- Crohn’s Disease
- Circulation conditions
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, we have four Sechrist 3600 monoplace hyperbaric chambers, capable of pressures up to 3.0 atmospheres. We are proud to treat patients for a variety of insurance-approved and off-label medical conditions.
Our chambers are made of clear acrylic, allowing the patient to see outside the chamber and allowing our trained technologists to closely monitor them at all times. Patients are able to communicate with the attending technologist via an intercom system. To ensure the comfort of our patients, all chambers have privacy curtains between them. Our chambers are also equipped with streaming capabilities, so you can relax and watch a movie or TV show during treatment.
We’d like to share the story of the mother of one of our patients.
“My 10 year old son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Instead of going the route of Remicade, we had heard positive experiences with HBOT from individuals we personally knew, and decided there was no harm in giving this a try, as there isn’t the risk that you have from extreme medication treatments etc.
I already knew that it was vital to have a “hard” chamber and NOT a “soft” chamber that people sometimes buy for their home, as the treatment is completely different and for his medical needs, we knew only the hard chamber was able to give the chance to be beneficial for what we needed.
The biggest decision for me was deciding between a mono chamber or the group option. As a mother, I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of my son being in the group chamber where everyone watched the same show/movie mixed with other adults/kids and I would not even be allowed with him. I just could not stomach the idea of being separated from my son for 2 hours and have him go through a new experience like HBOT by himself. In the group chambers they put a bag over your head and pump oxygen in that way. The idea was unsettling to me and then to not be there to calmly talk your child through it, when I’ve always been there for every medical treatment he’s always undergone in the hospitals, it baffled and worried me to not at least be there with him for the first treatment or two.
My mother in law discovered this wonderful location as an absolute answer to prayer!! When I reached out to Hyperbaric Healing Treatment and discussed my dilemma as a mother…… they completely understood the position I was in, and much to my relief, they said they were very familiar with that as a parent, and they had many clients that were children who just went in the chamber with their parent! I was so surprised and grateful when they told me this, that I was in tears! What a relief and weight of anxiety off my shoulders suddenly.
I absolutely LOVE the TV set up. Each mono chamber has its own TV, DVD player for your own movies.
After dive #4 I noticed we BOTH slept better, had more energy, and my muscles were relaxed like a massage. By #15 we had weaned off 2 medications for GI. Cramps were almost gone completely! We are over 2 months post treatment and my son is STILL doing exceptionally well and off a 3rd medication (Budesonide) now!”
— Jenee’ Rose, via Google Reviews (edited down version of the full review)
To learn more about our hyperbaric oxygen chambers, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
If you think hyperbaric oxygen therapy can benefit you or a loved one, we’re here to help you on your healing journey. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and tour.
Image credits: lubbockonline.com; Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
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