- HBO treatments have helped thousands of people with conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Autism, CP, MS and other brain disorders.
- Most insurance companies DO NOT cover HBOT for these neurological conditions.
- By delivering high oxygen under pressure, hypoxic tissue can be restored and healing takes place.
- With HBOT not an approved treatment for neurological conditions, there are very few centers and physicians that provide HBOT.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an AMA recognized medical treatment which enhances the body's natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. It is simply intermittent, short-term, high dose oxygen inhalation therapy. It is used for a wide variety of treatments usually as part of an overall medical care plan. The oxygen level in the patient's blood-stream is raised many times above normal, which helps control infections and promote healing in many kinds of illness or injury.
Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With HBO, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body's fluids, the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and bone and can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked. In this way, extra oxygen can reach all of the damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process. The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces local swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas. It is a simple, noninvasive and painless treatment.
It has long been known that healing many areas of the body cannot take place without appropriate oxygen levels in the tissue. Most illness and injuries occur and often linger at the cellular or tissue level. In many cases, such as in circulatory problems, in non-healing wounds and in strokes, adequate oxygen cannot reach the damaged area and the body's natural healing ability is unable to function properly. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can provide this ex1ra oxygen naturally with minimal side effects. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an FDA and Medicare approved method of treatment for many illnesses. Medicare, Blue Shield, and Blue Cross now recognize at least 13 different diseases for which HBOT is recommended as either primary or secondary treatment. Many private insurance companies do pay for HBOT.
- Improved quality of life. By promoting healing of the problem wound, adding HBO therapy can mean the difference between disability, loss of limb, and healing.
- Improved care. By delivering high oxygen under pressure, hypoxic tissue can be restored and healing takes place.
- Lower costs. By accelerating healing and the reduction of extensive medical care, HBOT coincides with cost-containment goals of major insurance providers.
Reimbursable Conditions including the following:
- Radiation Tissue Damage
- Osteomyelitis - acute or chronic (refractory)
- Non-healing Wounds, Diabetic and selected problem wounds
- Skin grafts & Flaps (compromised)
- Crush injury, Compartment Syndrome, other Acute Amputations, Limb Salvage and Limb Reattachment
- Exceptional Blood Loss
- Anemia Carbon Monoxide Poisoning/Cyanide Poisoning
- Air or Gas Embolism
- Decompression Sickness (Bends)
- Thermal Burns
- Gas Gangrene
- Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection
"Off-Label" yet appropriate indications include the following:
- Stroke - acute/post
- Lyme Disease
- Near Drowning
- Brain injury
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Chronic Fatigue
- Cerebral Palsy
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Immune System Building
- Elective Plastic Surgery Recovery/healing from laser and traditional types of plastic surgery
Some preexisting conditions or concurrent therapies can present contraindications to HBO.
- Upper respiratory infections and chronic sinusitis make it difficult for the patient to clear his/her ears. Often decongestants are used to open the sinuses, and occasionally surgical myringotomy is necessary to maintain open Eustachian tubes. Sometimes it is better to interrupt treatment for three or four days to allow the respiratory infection to clear.
- High fever can predispose to oxygen seizures but in such cases drugs can be given to lower the fever. In some patients with severe emphysema and COPD the only stimulus to breathe is hypoxemia, as they have lost their sensitivity to normal levels of CO2. These patients may cease breathing if placed in the hyperbaric chamber.
- Patients who have a lower than normal seizure threshold may be more prone to develop seizures due to oxygen toxicity. If HBOT treatment is a requirement, additional anticonvulsants can be added to these patients' regimens.
- HBOT is absolutely contraindicated for patients with pneumothorax, or collapse lung, and caution is used with HBOT treatment if a patient has a history of spontaneous pneumothorax.
- If a woman is pregnant, HBOT is not recommended for precautionary reasons, except in life threatening emergencies.
Barotrauma or ear and sinus discomfort. A patient may experience fullness and an uncomfortable pressure in the ears. This can be relieved by slowing the rate of descent/ ascent so that the patient is comfortable with the change in pressure. Also, decongestants taken prior to treatment are sometimes helpful.
The treatment process may be modified for different types of chambers, either the mono-place or the multi-place chamber. In the mono-place chamber, one person at a time is treated, whereas in the multi-place chamber where more than one patient is treated at the same time, with an attendant present in the chamber.
Only 100% cotton gown, which is supplied, is permitted in the chamber. No cosmetics, perfumes, deodorants, hair preparations, wigs or jewelry are worn during the treatments. Patients are advised not to take carbonated drinks or alcohol for at least four hours prior to each treatment, and that they should give up smoking and tobacco products, as these interfere with the body's ability to transport oxygen.
Once inside the chamber, the patient will be experience the changing pressure which is the same as that felt in an airplane when ascending or landing. Prior to the treatment, the patient is instructed in techniques of equalizing the ear/sinus pressure by yawning, swallowing, or attempting to blow through the nose while holding it shut. During the treatment the individual will be breathing 100% oxygen, dispersing oxygen into the blood plasma and delivering up to 15 times as much oxygen to tissues as would breathing room air. The treatment length is 60 - 90 minutes, depending on the diagnosis and the physician's determination of treatment. The acrylic walls allow for the trained technicians to closely monitor the patient, as well as providing comfortable viewing out of the chamber. From inside the chamber the patient can always communicate with the attending technician via intercom, as well as watch TV, listen to music, or just take a nap.
Oxygen toxicity. This may occur, particularly when therapy is given at more than 2.4 A TA. This is minimized by not exposing the patient to greater pressure or longer times than are known to be safe for the body and its organs. Some patients are susceptible to high 02 partial pressures. Treatment is the discontinuance of HBOT.
Serous otitis. Rarely, fluid accumulates in the ears as a result of changes in pressure in the ears and sinuses resulting in a possible ruptured membrane. Treatment is the discontinuance of HBOT and a referral to an ENT physician.
Temporary worsening of near-sightedness (Myopia). After twenty or more treatments, especially if the patient is over forty years of age, it is possible to experience a temporary diminution in the ability to focus on things far away. This is temporary and vision typically returns to its pre-treatment level about six weeks after cessation of therapy. It is not advisable to get a new prescription for glasses until at least eight weeks have passed after hyperbaric therapy.
Temporary improvement in far-sightedness (Presbyopia). Also, after twenty or more treatments, especially if the patent is over forty years of age, there is a possibility to experience an improvement in the ability to see things close up or to read without glasses. However, this is temporary and the vision should return to its previous level of acuity in about six weeks following cessation of hyperbaric treatment.
Numb fingers. A small portion of patients sometimes notice a numb feeling in the fourth and fifth fingers of the hands after twenty or more treatments. This should not be of concern and should disappear within about six weeks following cessation of therapy.
Copyright 2004, Clinical Hyperbaric Education & Research Institute for Synaptic Healing