Under normal pressure, oxygen is transported through the circulatory system by the red blood cells. The body is limited to the success and health of the circulatory system.
In areas where circulation is poor, oxygenation is lacking. This can lead to disease, slower healing, and tissue death.
When the body is placed in a pressurized environment, under simple laws of physics, oxygen is able to dissolve into the plasma and is no longer dependent on the circulatory system for transportation.
Hyperbaric therapy (HBT) is the medical use of creating a pressurized environment at a level higher than 1 atmosphere absolute (ATA). Increased pressure allows oxygen to dissolve and saturate the blood plasma (independent of hemoglobin/red blood cells), which yields a broad variety of positive physiological, biochemical and cellular effects. This noninvasive therapy is a trusted way to increase oxygen levels to all organs of the body. The typical treatment lasts 60-120 minutes, during which the patient relaxes and breathes normally. HBT has been demonstrated in numerous clinical studies to enhance the body’s innate ability to repair and regenerate. It is used as an adjunct therapy to complement and enhance the healing processes in both chronic and acute conditions.
At a constant temperature, the amount of a given gas that dissolves in a given type and volume of liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid.
For a gas (in this case, oxygen) to effectively dissolve into any liquid (blood plasma), pressure is required.
Hyperbaric pressure changes the environment to assist in higher levels of oxygen to reach the tissues of the body helping those tissues to heal, build, and thrive.
When temperature is constant, the volume of a gas is inversely proportional to the pressure and the density of a gas is directly proportional to the pressure
Increased environmental pressures decrease the size of the oxygen molecules. This enables more oxygen to exist in the tissues of the body. Oxygen molecules in the alveoli of the lungs become more concentrated which increases the amount of oxygen molecules transferred to the blood by diffusion. In this state, oxygen can travel beyond the walls of the veins and arteries.
Hyperbaric medicine is the use of high concentrations of oxygen at pressures higher than atmospheric for the treatment and management of disease. The first documented use of hyperbaric therapy occurred in 1662 when a British physician created an airtight chamber, called a 'domicilium', in which the atmosphere could be compressed and decompressed using oxygen bellows and valves.
Although it is unlikely that the physician's patients benefited from time spent in the domicilium, his work is remarkable, particularly because it occurred before the discovery of oxygen. In the 1800's, hyperbaric chambers became popular throughout Europe.
The foundations of hyperbaric medicine were laid in 1872 by Paul Bert, a French engineer, physician and scientist, who wrote about the physiological effects of air under increased and decreased atmospheric pressures in La Pression Barometrique.
Dr. J. Leonard Corning built the first hyperbaric chamber in the United States in New York in 1891. Dr. Orval Cunningham, chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Kansas University Medical School, became interested in hyperbaric chambers during the influenza pandemic at the end of World War I. Over the next several years, he utilized hyperbaric chambers to treat a variety of diseases, including diabetes, arthritis and syphilis. In 1928, Cunningham opened the largest hyperbaric chamber in the world in Cleveland, Ohio.
The medical community remained skeptical of Cunningham's work with hyperbaric air because he failed to substantiate his claims with clinical data. In the 1930s, Álvaro Osório de Almeida, a Brazilian physician, recognized the potential benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and published several papers on his work on the effects of high doses of oxygen on tumors in animals and people.
The United States Navy also conducted extensive research on the use of hyperbaric oxygen to treat decompression sickness. A significant report on this research was published by Behnke and Shaw in 1937. Since this time, physicians and scientists have continued to explore the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment and management of disease.
In the 1940's, the military developed chambers to treat deep-sea divers who suffered from decompression sickness. In the 1950’s, physicians utilized hyperbarics during heart and lung surgeries, which led to its use for carbon monoxide poisoning in the 1960’s. Presently, over 11,000 clinical trials and case studies have been completed for a myriad of other health-related applications with the majority of results showing great success.
Clarke, D. (2008). History of Hyperbaric Therapy. In T. S. Neuman & S. R. Thom (Eds.), Physiology and Medicine of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (1st ed., pp. 3-23). Philadelphia: Saunders. Retrieved from ClinicalKey.Jain, K. K. (2009). Textbook of hyperbaric medicine. Cambridge, Mass.: Hogrefe and Huber.Moon, R. E., & Camporesi, E. M. (1999). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. Respir Care Clin N Am, 5(1), 1-5.
No medical claims are being made by New Leaf Hyperbarics, their Subsidiaries and Franchisees beyond the hyperbaric chambers intended use. The FDA 510(k) approved intended use is, “to provide mild hyperbaria for the treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and its associated mild symptoms”.
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