What is HBOT?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is breathing 100% oxygen while under higher atmospheric pressure. In order to understand why this therapy can be so beneficial, it’s important to understand how our body absorbs oxygen under normal conditions.
At normal atmospheric pressure, identified as 1.0 ATA, our bodies are very efficient, and we are all about 98-99% saturated with oxygen. Each red blood cell can only carry four oxygen molecules, so we are limited by the carrying capacity of our hemoglobin. This can be further limited by inflammation, disease, or injury, which can prevent blood flow from delivering oxygen to certain areas of the body.
How does HBOT assist with Healing?
Think about a stroke, concussion, or really any other wound, internal or external. All of these conditions involve a loss of blood flow to a certain area, which means a loss of oxygen. Without oxygen, cells have no fuel to burn to go about the process of healing themselves. This leads to a resultant “cytokine storm” that leads to programmed cellular death, which we experience as a loss of function. This can take the form of pain and inflammation, or in the case of head injuries, loss of memory, vertigo, photosensitivity, etc. In order for any wound to heal, blood flow must first be restored, so that oxygen can return to the tissue and cells can heal themselves.
However, with HBOT, the healing process can be greatly improved. Under increased atmospheric pressure, oxygen can dissolve directly into plasma (the fluid that carries your red blood cells) and surrounding tissue. This means that you are no longer limited by the carrying capacity of your hemoglobin, and you can be over 100% saturated with oxygen. In fact, some studies have shown oxygen saturation levels over 1500% while undergoing treatment.
HBOT and Acute Conditions
For acute injuries, like a concussion, stroke, or surgical wound, by undergoing HBOT within the first 72 hours, oxygen can be returned to the tissue even before blood flow has been restored. This can prevent the cytokine storm and inflammation that leads to programmed cellular death, which means the healing process gets started much sooner. This leads to drastically reduced healing times for many varied conditions with fewer HBOT treatments.
HBOT and Chronic Conditions
For chronic conditions, like persistent post-concussion syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other inflammatory conditions, HBOT can be beneficial, but on a much longer time scale. These conditions can be alleviated by the benefits of consistent treatment. Studies have shown that angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels), neurogenesis (growth of new nerves and neurons), and stem cell migration can be greatly improved with 20-40+ sessions of HBOT, done five days per week over a period of consecutive weeks.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is extremely beneficial for restoring normal cellular function. However, as oxygen is classified by the FDA as a drug, treatment requires a prescription. If you are interested in receiving treatment for any of these conditions, please give us a call at 512-662-1463, or reach out through our website, atxhyperbarics.com/contact-us/ and we can provide a full consultation or connect you with a physician.