What Is Hyperbaric Therapy? (Part One)
I recently found out about a treatment called hyperbaric therapy. I cannot believe that I never knew about it. If it works, it is set to reduce my pain by quite a significant amount so I am understandably excited to try it!
I contacted the RAMS (Race Against Multiple Scoerosis) Therapy Centre in Belfast and spoke with a very helpful member of staff named Penny. Penny sent me information describing the treatment and how it is carried out.
'Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a painless and non-invasive treatment that increases the amount of oxygen in your body. This is done by breathing pure (100%) oxygen through a mask or mouthpiece while you are seated inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
The pressure inside the chamber is increased during your treatment. This allows higher amounts of oxygen to get into your blood cells and surrounding fluids so that more can be delivered to your tissues, organs and brain.
When your tissues are infused with more oxygen, this helps to reduce swelling, pressure and pain; strengthen your immune system and speed up the healing of injuries, ailments and infections.
Hyperbaric oxygen has been used for many years to treat decompression illness (the bends in divers) and carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is now also used to assist with a multitude of problems ranging from chronic infections, injuries, burns and wounds to complex disabilities, including pain and neurological impairment.
Usually the supply of oxygen we breathe from the air around us is enough for a normal healthy body to repair minor injuries. However, there are times during illness or more serious injury when the body is under stress and requires more oxygen to heal effectively.
When we breathe oxygen at normal atmospheric pressure, it is transported by the hemoglobin in our red blood cells. However, our hemoglobin only has a certain carrying capacity.
Once this carrying capacity is reached (saturation), our body has a harder time picking up additional oxygen.
During hyperbaric therapy your body is able to take on drastically greater amounts of oxygen than normal. Under pressure, oxygen dissolves into your plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, and other body fluids.
It is therefore easily delivered to all your tissues, including damaged tissues where blood flow is reduced or blocked. The increased oxygen helps to kill bacteria and fight infection and stimulates the release of substances called growth factors and stem cells, which promote healing.'
This treatment was mainly used on Multiple Sclerosis patients but thankfully it is now more widely available. There are centres located in various parts of Ireland so do a little research to find a chamber close to you.
My follow up column will include information on my first experience with oxygen treatment. Stay Tuned!