Introduction To Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Here is a link to an excellent article on HBO therapy. It explains what it is, how it works, how long it takes, who it helps, what is covered, and where to go, and what to expect.

Here are some excerpts;

What is it?

“Hyperbaric Oxygenation Therapy (HBOT) is a new therapy for many individuals with CRPS/RSD. Interestingly, however, this therapy is not new at all.”

Dr Allan Spiegel, who has been a practicing neurologist for more than 21 years, discovered HBOT seven years ago through the internet when he was searching for therapies to help a family member who had suffered a stroke. “As a neurologist, I didn’t believe this would work until I saw it firsthand,” he says. He has since become a certified hyperbaric clinician and is passionate about the healing potential of this therapy.”

“With HBOT, patients enter a small bed-size chamber where they inhale 100 percent oxygen (instead of 21 percent) at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. These pressures are equivalent to different depths undersea — except that there is no water.”

“Spiegel says that HBOT supersaturates tissues that have been deprived of oxygen because of the swelling of a limb. Specifically, saturation levels of oxygen in blood and tissues increase 10 to 20 times while in the chamber. Further, HBOT has a tendency to constrict vessels by about 15 percent, which causes a decrease in swelling from the edema present in most people with RSD. “With HBOT,” Spiegel says, “we are looking at long-term improvement, reduction in pain, improvement in sleep — and reduction in depression, because pain causes depression.”

How does it work?

“Susan Rodriguez, a certified hyperbaric specialist from San Bernardino, California, believes that to understand how HBOT works for RSD, you need to understand the disease itself. “RSD is neurological in nature and yet it manifests itself in physical symptoms,” she says. “What that means is that the disease needs to be treated with two approaches. One goal is to restore circulation, reduce inflammation or edema, and remove the swelling in affected limbs so the limbs can live. The other goal — if you want to eliminate the disease — is to work on the brain.”

“With RSD, pain is read through sensors in the sympathetic nervous system. (The sympathetic nervous system is what is activated in phantom leg pain, for example.) “Hyperbaric Oxygenation Therapy, however, can make the switch in the brain back to the central nervous system,” Rodriguez says. Under a doctor’s direction, she treats both the affected limb and the brain by different atmospheric pressures when the patient is inside the chamber.”

“Different undersea depths work on different parts of the body,” she explains. “Deeper depths (up to 33 to 45 feet undersea) work more on tissue and bone, while milder hyperbarics (such as 18 to 24 feet undersea) work on the brain. Since we are working on both things, I take patients to all those levels. Almost always, the first symptom to come is the last to go. And then the symptoms are gone!”

“”I have seen some very dramatic improvements,” says Rodriguez. “In some cases we have seen improvements to the point of a remission.” she says. “Nothing works for everyone, but I’ve seen this work for many people if they stick with it.”

“Paying for Hyberbaric Oxygenation Therapy”

“According to Spiegel, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this therapy for only 14 clinical conditions, including the treatment of external diabetic ulcers and internal radiation wounds. These 14 treatment categories appear to have been arbitrarily set more than 40 years ago.”

“Without FDA approval, however, insurance companies cannot cover the cost of this treatment, nor can hospitals provide treatment, even for those who can pay. Instead, only free-standing clinics are legally permitted to treat for “off-list” conditions such as RSD. Formal clinical studies are required for this scenario to change, a cost prohibitive proposition thus far.

“While insurance is unlikely to cover the cost of these treatments for the time being, Spiegel feels HBOT therapy is still “very, very cost effective” in the long term. Session lengths average 1-1/2 to 2 hours for individuals with CRPS/RSD, with costs around $150 to $250 per session.”

“Spiegel and others are doing what they can to get the FDA and other groups to re-evaluate the current limitations on approved diagnoses to treat with HBOT. This past summer, for example, he gave a talk at the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society annual meeting. The talk raised considerable interest.”

“Currently, two clinical trials are underway at the National Institutes of Health involving HBOT, but neither involve people with RSD.”

“Choosing a Treatment Center”

“Hospitals are not permitted to provide Hyperbaric Oxygenation Therapy for patients suffering with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Instead, you must select a free-standing medical clinic.

A list of providers worldwide is online at:”HBOT PROVIDERS WORLD-WIDE LIST  
Free-standing clinics permitted to treat brain injury and other off-list conditions are indicated by a “#” on this list.

“Choose a reputable center for your treatment, where your therapists understand all the risks and take all the safety precautions necessary to avoid a problem.

A reputable center will

•be staffed by a physician and other health care professionals certified by the Hyperbaric and Undersea Medical Society.

• require a doctor’s prescription before giving therapy.

• have two or more staff members in the building at all times in the event one has an emergency.

•have strict rules about allowing nothing whatsoever in the chamber with the patient that could be combustible.

To read the entire article please visit;