The lowdown on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

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Fitness Journal finds out what this form of therapy can offer to athletes and individuals.

What does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy do?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is used by athletes to help speed their recovery from tough workouts, to improve their competition times and to aid in their rehabilitation from any aches or strains.
“If you are serious about training and want to meet and exceed your training goals, HBOT is definitely something you should consider,” says Sarah.

HBOT is used extensively by a number of American footballers and tennis players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, elite cyclists and triathletes, and many other athletes.

“HBOT is also successfully used to treat or mitigate a range of conditions that are related to insufficient oxygen, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, birth injuries, Parkinson’s disease, etc.”

It is also used as an anti-ageing and beauty procedure, enhancing physical and mental performance. It energises, tones the skin, increases the skin’s elasticity and decreases wrinkles.

HBOT2How does it work?
Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids, the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and the 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, reduce swelling, and allow new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.

There is also evidence that after an incident, for example a blow to the head, or with ageing, a lot of cells end up lying dormant – not dead – and the additional oxygen kick starts the DNA, which regenerates the cells.  It is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment.

It is most often used as an “adjunctive treatment” in conjunction with other forms of treatment and as a part of a total medical care regime.

Why haven’t we heard about HBOT before?
HBOT treatment is remarkably well known in countries such as USA, Japan, United Kingdom, Holland and other European countries.  Word has been slower to infiltrate New Zealand, but as information about the success of HBOTgains momentum, treatment here in New Zealand will become more and more common.

How and why have you become involved?
I first learned about HBOT about four months ago when I used it to mop up the final symptoms of a series of small strokes I experienced about three years ago.  I was impressed by how much it helped, and I remain indebted to the ultra distance runner who let me use his chamber. Now I want to help other people benefit from the same therapy.

It is not a cure-all.  There are lots of different conditions it cannot help. But where improved levels of oxygen can intervene and make a change, it is a treatment that should be readily used.

What “sold” you on HBOT?
The more I learn about HBOT, the more impressed I become. It really works! However, because oxygen cannot be “owned” by a pharmaceutical company, no company has had an incentive or a budget to significantly promote it. Pharmaceutical companies would much rather we use expensive drugs to try to contain diseases and don’t want us to learn about cheaper therapy that actually works.

How much is HBOT treatment?
It is very competitively priced in Cambridge, ranging from $55-$90 per treatment. The first treatment is complimentary. Each treatment takes a minimum of 80 minutes.  Some courses are relatively short – for example, an acute athletic strain. Others are much longer – so expect upward of 40 sessions to treat stoke symptoms or chronic traumatic brain injury.

What are the common misconceptions about HBOT?
HBOT is simply a placebo effect.  It doesn’t work at all.
There is a raft of scientific research showing that HBOT truly works, including many animal studies – where a placebo effect doesn’t really cut the mustard.

Oxygen under pressure is volatile so is there is a risk of explosion?
Oxygen used in low pressure HBOT is remarkably safe so there is no risk of explosion.

What are six things you would like everyone to know about HBOT?
Your health is the singularly most important aspect of your life.  Without it, you cannot enjoy your children and grandchildren, and all the wonderful activity in this amazing world. Seize the opportunity to make your health the best you can and, if HBOT can help make it improve, then use it.

Is there is high and low pressure HBOT?
Here in Waikato we use the low pressure HBOT because research shows it works more consistently and is 100 percent safe.

I am claustrophobic so how will I get on in the chamber?
The chamber has transparent viewing sections so you can see out.  Also it is white and roomy inside, and becomes increasingly larger as the pressure rises. The technician will talk you through the process and will only zip you in if you are completely comfortable.  I have put several claustrophobic people in the chamber and all of them have felt remarkably comfortable – and indeed have slept through parts of their treatment.

What can I do while I am inside the chamber?
People read, listen to music, play or speak on their cell phones, meditate, rest or sleep. The choice is yours.

What can I do if my ears react to the change of pressure?
If you feel your ears react to the pressure, there are several different ways that will help overcome the problem. The attendant will show a valve inside the chamber that you can adjust to slow or stop the pressure rising until your ears feel comfortable again.

My condition occurred years ago, will HBOT still be able to help?
HBOT works for recent and chronic conditions from decades ago.  However not all conditions react the same way. It is best to phone and ask for a free consultation.

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