Frequently Asked Questions
The air we breathe contains 21% oxygen. Our red blood cells carry the oxygen by way of plasma to distribute it throughout the body to where it is needed most. When there is a restriction (occlusion) in blood flow due to surgery, illness or injury, the red blood cells block the blood vessel and are unable to transfer oxygen to the cells on the other side of the occlusion. This causes swelling and starves the area of oxygen, causing hypoxia (a lack of oxygen). When this occurs, the tissue begins to break down.
With hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), the patient breathes 100% oxygen under pressure. The increased amount of oxygen combined with pressurizing the patient causes the oxygen to diffuse into the blood plasma. This oxygen-rich plasma is able to travel past the restriction, diffusing up to three times further into the tissue. The pressurized environment helps to reduce swelling and discomfort, while providing the body with at least 10-15 times its normal supply of oxygen to help repair tissue damaged by the original occlusion or subsequent hypoxic condition.
Hyperbaric oxygenation directly increases the saturative effects of tissue oxygenation, slowing and reversing hypoxia induced tissue death – restoring blood supply to the compromised region by the development of new capillary networks (angiogenesis), enabling the body to alter the course and impact of the disease process.
At our medical centers, HBOT is administered in a private monoplace hyperbaric chamber made of clear acrylic. This allows our trained technologists to closely monitor the patient and allows the patient to see outside the chamber. The chamber will be pressurized with pure oxygen per the physician’s order. Patients are in constant view and able to communicate with the attending technologist via an outside intercom. While in the chamber, you may watch your favorite show, stream a movie, listen to music, take a nap, or just rest.
HBOT is like taking antibiotics. A hyperbaric trained physician will prescribe the number of treatments based on the condition being treated. The patient will come once a day, Monday through Friday, until they complete their treatments. Protocols can vary based on the diagnoses being treated.
HBOT is generally a safe procedure. At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, patient safety is our top concern. Our patients are continuously monitored by experienced staff while going through their treatment. There are minimal risks at the depths and duration we treat our patients. During your New Patient Orientation, our Safety Director will go over all of the questions or concerns you may have about treatment.
Because of the increased oxygen concentration and increased atmospheric pressure, certain safety measures are needed. You will be reminded before each hyperbaric treatment not to bring anything that could be dangerous in the increased oxygen environments. Items such as matches, patches, lighters, hearing aids, watches, petroleum, alcohol-based dressings and electronic devices are not permitted in the hyperbaric chamber. If an item is not on our approved list, has not been given to you by us, or been approved by the Safety Director, then it is not allowed in the hyperbaric chamber.
Per NFPA 99, the three classifications of hyperbaric chambers are:
Class A: Multiplace Chambers
These are generally larger hyperbaric chambers the size of a room that can fit multiple patients in 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 for more emergent conditions due to this chamber allowing for medical personnel to come and go while patients are in treatment. Some examples are scuba divers with decompression sickness and patients exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Class B: Monoplace Chambers
These are the most commonly found hyperbaric chambers in clinical settings. Monoplace chambers were built to fit one patient in at a time. They can be filled with room air or pure oxygen. Monoplace chambers can pressurize up to three atmospheres. Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center offers 4 Sechrist 3600 Monoplace Hyperbaric chambers.
Class C: Chambers for Animal Use
These types of chambers come in all shapes and sizes, and are found in veterinary clinics or hospitals. They can be used for a wide range of conditions, most commonly for wound healing. They can even be large enough to fit a horse.
It is important to know that Portable/Canvas bag chambers are also known as low-pressure. Portable fabric hyperbaric chambers are authorized by the FDA only for treatment of acute mountain sickness. Inflatable chambers cannot achieve internal pressures over 1.3 atmospheres. Scientific studies start treating patients at 1.5ata.
To learn more about the different types of hyperbaric chambers, read our blog.
Oxygen therapy is a treatment that provides you with extra oxygen to breathe in either short-term or long-term. It is only available through a prescription from your healthcare provider, and it can be received in the hospital, another medical setting, or at home. You may need it if you have a condition that causes low blood oxygen like COPD, cystic fibrosis, or sleep apnea.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a different type of oxygen therapy that involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber to allow your lungs to gather up to three times more oxygen than normal. HBOT is used to treat certain serious wounds, burns, injuries, sudden hearing loss, infections, and more.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is only achieved with the combination of pressure and oxygen therapy. At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, the percentage of oxygen filled within our hyperbaric chambers is medical grade 99.9% oxygen, with a flow rate of 200-450 liters per minute (LPM).
By adding 2 ATM of pressure, which is a common protocol, but can vary depending on what we’re treating, the partial pressure of oxygen within the body increases to promote healing for conditions we treat with HBOT. Repeat treatments build up oxygen in the body to promote healing for major medical conditions. HBOT can be utilized in both acute and chronic conditions.
A NRB (non-rebreather mask) can deliver 60–80% percent oxygen at a flow rate of about 10 to 15 LPM. They’re most commonly used in situations when people have extremely low levels of blood oxygen, since they can quickly deliver oxygen to your blood in an acute manner.
Without the pressure component of HBOT, we cannot achieve the same benefits from oxygen therapy as we do when undergoing HBOT.
NBOT (nonbaric oxygen therapy) is beneficial for its own indications and clinical applications, but would not be effective to treat conditions in which we need HBOT such as: necrotizing fasciitis, compartment syndrome, osteomyelitis, decompression illness, etc. These conditions need to be treated in proper hyperbaric chambers that can pressurize to depths needed for effective treatment.
Currently, there are 14 approved Medicare Conditions. Commercial Insurance follows Medicare Guideline, and additional conditions can vary per plan. We offer discounted out-of-pocket packages for patients not wishing to bill their insurance.
Medicare considers the following conditions for HBOT to be covered for payment:
- 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
The following conditions are examples of off-label conditions which may or may not be covered by insurance or Medicare:
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Near Drowning
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- 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
If your condition is covered by insurance, we will submit the claims to them directly. You will be responsible for any copays or deductibles per your plan.
We also offer discounted out-of-pocket packages. Read more here or contact us for pricing information.
Results may vary depending on the diagnoses treated. Certain diagnoses will require diagnostic testing prior and post treatment to evaluate results.
All patients will have an evaluation prior to treatment. Some diagnoses require us to have certain medical records on file prior to treating you.
Some examples are:
- Chest X-Ray
- Radiation records
- Proof of history of antibiotics
The most recent and most significant documented advances with hyperbaric medicine have emerged with the utilization of high tech investigation including isotopic tracers with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT).
MRI and SPECT performed as a pre-and post-hyperbaric evaluation have provided valuable insights into the mechanisms and actions of hyperbaric medicine through oxygenation. Conditions that have previously been considered to have a poor prognosis, including brain injuries, stroke, and neurological based conditions, have been greatly improved with HBOT and continue today to be among the areas of research.
While in the chamber, you will be breathing pure oxygen while being pressurized per the physician’s orders. When the chamber starts to pressurize, you will start to feel your ears pop like being on an airplane. When you reach pressure, the oxygen does not smell, taste or feel any different than the air you’re breathing outside. It’s like lying on the sofa at home watching TV. There is a constant flow of oxygen filling in at the head of the chamber and it is filtered out through the foot. This helps regulate a comfortable temperature. Treatment time can take up to 90 minutes. When your treatment time is up, the chamber will begin its ascent. This only takes a few minutes, then your treatment will be over. After treatment, it is important to drink water, eat healthy, and rest.
To learn more about what to expect during treatment, read our blog.
Middle Ear Barotrauma is the most common side effect from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This is pain experienced from the middle ear due to difficulty equalizing the pressure on both sides of the eardrum. We have protocols in place to educate you prior to treatment on maneuvers for clearing your ears.
Vision changes can occur while in treatment. This is because of hyperbaric oxygen on the curvature of the eye’s lens during a course of 20 or more hyperbaric treatments. If this happens, it is minor and temporary. Changing your eyeglass prescriptions is not necessary. Your eyesight will return to normal a few weeks after stopping treatment.
Too much of a good thing can be dangerous in any situation. There is a rare possibility for someone to experience oxygen toxicity. This can happen due to over exposure to oxygen. Certain medications can increase your risk of experiencing oxygen toxicity. A hyperbaric trained physician will evaluate you prior to starting treatment. To prevent oxygen poisoning, you may need to take short breaks during the therapy and breathe normal air. This can prevent tissues in the body from taking in too much oxygen.
During your New Patient Orientation, our Safety Director will go over all of the questions or concerns you may have about treatment. Most patients tolerate hyperbaric therapy very well. HBOT does not have narcotic type effects. Your current daily activities/functions will not be impaired from having treatment, and it’s safe for you to drive yourself to and from your hyperbaric appointments.
Prior to treatment, please avoid alcohol or carbonated drinks. It’s best to avoid smoking and any other tobacco products during your treatment period, as they interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen. This will directly affect the time it takes you to heal.
We ask that patients come into treatment as if they just got out of the shower. We do not mean you must shower and come straight over, but due to safety reasons we cannot allow you to enter the hyperbaric chamber with anything on your body. Please remove all lotions, hair products, perfumes, cosmetics, deodorant, etc.
To help, you will be asked a series of questions to ensure you are not bringing anything that could be unsafe in the chamber. Please let the chamber operator know if you have had any changes in your medical condition.
To learn more about what to expect during treatment, read our blog.
Due to safety reasons, patients are only allowed to wear 100% cotton clothing inside the chamber. Cotton does not carry static like synthetic fibers. Patients can bring their own clothing to change into prior to treatment, but be aware that patient clothing must be approved by our Safety Director prior to treatment. Alternatively, we can provide you with hyperbaric-approved clothing onsite. We’ll give you blankets and pillows so you can stay warm and comfortable inside the chamber.
New patients are accepted by either your own physician or by self-referral to be evaluated by our hyperbaric trained physician. You can have your physician submit a referral form and you will be contacted for an appointment to be evaluated. Patients will be evaluated by our hyperbaric trained staff and treated based on their diagnoses.
To schedule a consultation, you can book online or call us at (407) 530-0710.
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