Welcome to the amazing world of Hyperbaric Medicine!
About the Association
The International Hyperbarics Association, Inc. is an educational and charitable organization focusing on the needs of the hyperbaric community. Members come to us from all facets of the medical field, ranging from medical centers treating the hyperbaric needs of their patients, to individual hyperbaric chamber users, to corporate chamber manufacturers.
As a teaching institution, the IHA distributes and publishes data, articles and papers regarding the latest hyperbaric news and strides. As a research institution, the Association networks, grants and facilitates access to hyperbaric patients, fellow doctors, and staff. And finally, as a charitable institution, the IHA grants funding to those in need of hyperbaric therapy. The International Hyperbarics Association, Inc. is here for you!
What is Hyperbaric Therapy?
Hyperbaric Therapy, also known as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, HBO or HBOT, is a specialized therapy that uses an increase in atmospheric pressure to allow the body to incorporate more oxygen into blood cells, blood plasma, cerebral-spinal fluid, and other body fluids.
At sea level the atmospheric pressure is 1ATA (14.7 psi or pounds per square inch), which allows the lungs to absorb a normal amount of oxygen from the air. At higher altitudes, the pressure drops and the lungs are not able to absorb as much oxygen from the air. This is why oxygen masks drop in an airplane at high altitudes – to increase the oxygen content due to the lack of pressure. The exact opposite happens at lower altitudes (below sea level). There, the pressure is greater (above 1ATA) and now the lungs can more easily absorb the oxygen, and at a greater volume.
A bottle of soda-pop is a pressurized vessel. In the bottle there is liquid. There is also ‘carbonation’ (the gas) and pressure. When the bottle is sealed, bubbles are not seen. The moment the cap is twisted and the seal is broken, there is a ‘swish’ and the pressure is released from the bottle. Now, all of a sudden there is a formation of bubbles in the bottle, and as time goes, they grow and float to the top of the liquid. Certainly the pressure in the bottle is quite high and the nature of the gas (carbonation) is a different than the 21% oxygen in the ambient air. However the concept is the same. In the hyperbaric chamber, as the pressure goes up, more oxygen from the air is 'pushed' into the fluids of the body.
The healing process occurs when a severely compromised tissue in the body begins to receive oxygen, and blood circulation to the tissue resumes. Note: The damaged tissue may not have been receiving enough blood for it to heal, due to a lack of blood circulation caused by the initial trauma.
Inside the pressurized chamber, the story unfolds. The injury site now begins to receive a healing dose of oxygen through the surrounding body fluids and plasma—even if the blood supply to the tissues is compromised.
Furthermore, to boost the oxygen concentration in oxygen chambers, supplemental oxygen may be added into hyperbaric chambers during treatment. Doctors and therapists commonly use enriched oxygen or an oxygen concentrator, also called an oxygen generator to help supplement the oxygen. As explained before, this oxygen will become infused into the numerous types of liquids in the body—blood, plasma, cerebral fluids.And like the soda-pop in our analogy, the oxygen uptake will remain in the body for a time after treatment.
The Gas Laws of Physics state that more gas is dissolved in a liquid by increasing the pressure of the gas.
Note: Breathing pure oxygen at 2 Atmospheres, gives 10 times the regular amount of oxygen (2 x 100% vs. 21%). In one hour, humans can inhale 2.4 pounds of oxygen! (Normal atmospheric pressure 1 ATA allows 6 pounds/day). Red blood cells instantly fill with oxygen and the extra oxygen dissolves directly into the blood fluid. In a few minutes, this extra oxygen builds up tissue oxygen levels far above normal.
The Principle of HBO is simple. Increase the atmospheric pressure and get a directly proportional increase in available oxygen. In other words, a twofold increase in pressure equals twice the available oxygen molecules to breathe.
How long the treatments last depends on the doctor's particular protocol for that individual. Every person and every condition is unique. Hyperbaric treatments may require a one-hour or two-hour session. A treatment program may require 3 treatments a week for several weeks or more.
There are many different manufacturers and designs of HBO chambers--monoplace, multiplace, and portable. The treating physician's protocol will dictate which type of chamber should be used.
There is much more information and research available on this remarkable subject. The New England Journal of Medicine has much documentation on the use of HBOT for the treatment of such indications as multiple sclerosis, acute carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, air embolism, diabetic foot wounds, infections, burns, ulcers and edema. This is but scratching the surface of the many uses of hyperbaric technology. Be sure to visit our Resources page to learn about the International Indications for hyperbaric medicine.
As an educational Association, hope to in some way, be able to supply the void for answers which have greatly arisen over the past few years. We invite you to join our growing membership base. There are different levels of membership, depending on what you would like to get out of your Association. Our driving force is our members, who are committed to do all we can "to give life to the world."
Please use this website liberally and share it with those in need and those in the healing arts. Also, be sure to log in to our newly modified discussion board.