The science behind hyperbaric oxygen therapy

You have probably read about or heard of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. But have you ever wondered just how it worked?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing 100% pure oxygen whilst sitting in our pressurised chamber. The chamber simulates the pressure at approximately 2 atmospheres (2 ATA) under water. There is, of course, no water involved in this process and the whole process is non-invasive and pain-free.

Due to the increase in pressure, the patient will breathe 10 to 20 times more oxygen into their body. Your blood then carries this oxygen throughout your body and delivers it to areas where it is needed, such as wounds or infected areas.

These areas need more oxygen to survive and heal. The increased level of oxygen in the blood arriving at these areas and result in temporally restoring normal levels of blood gasses and tissue function which help to promote healing and fighting off bacteria by stimulating new capillary growth.

When blood flows normally

The air we normally breathe is made up of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen. When breathing the lungs transfer the oxygen to the red blood cells – via hemoglobin. The then oxygen-rich red blood cells are carried throughout the body by plasma, which travels through the blood vessels. The oxygen diffuses into the surrounding tissue and it is delivered where it is needed the most.

When blood flow is restricted

When there is a restriction (occlusion) in the blood flow due to injury or illness, the red blood cells block the blood vessel and are not able to transfer oxygen to the cells on the other side of the blockage. This can cause swelling and the area is starved of oxygen causing hypoxia – a lack of oxygen. When this happens the tissue begins to break down.

Hyperbaric oxygenation effects

Breathing 100% oxygen under pressure causes the oxygen to diffuse into the blood plasma. This oxygen-rich plasma is able to travel past the restriction, diffusing up to four times further into the tissue. The increased pressure helps to reduce swelling and discomfort while providing the body with 10 to 20 times the normal supply of oxygen to help repair tissue damaged by the original occlusion or subsequent hypoxic condition.

Regeneration of blood vessels

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy forces more oxygen into the tissue, which helps stimulate the formation of new blood vessels. These new blood vessels develop, and the oxygenated blood cells start to flow to the affected areas. This then creates the optimal environment for the body’s natural healing processes to repair the damage.

The most common treatments that Wesley Hyperbaric treat are radiation damage to the bone and soft tissue and the treatment of non-healing wounds such as diabetic ulcers or venous leg ulcers. The above process is proven to treat these conditions effectively as well as a range of other conditions.

If you are suffering from any of the conditions that are proven to be treatable with hyperbaric oxygen therapy then do get in touch with us. All you need is a referral from your GP or specialist and you can then come in for an assessment to start treatment straight away.