What is Hyperbaric Medicine?

Hyperbaric medicine is a mainstream therapy in which a patient breathes 100% oxygen at an increased atmospheric pressure. Chambers are designed to safely increase the atmospheric pressure and then the patient will breathe 100% oxygen which will increase the amount of oxygen in the blood 12 - 15 times depending on the protocol. Because of safety, quality care and patient volume, Beaumont chose to use a multiplace facility as opposed to going with a monoplace chamber option.

Many of the body's natural healing processes are oxygen dependent. In patients with poorly oxygenated tissue due to either disease or injury, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can be the difference between limb salvage and amputation. The therapeutic benefits of hyperbaric therapy include:

  • increased atmospheric pressure
  • increased oxygen concentrations
  • increased oxygenation of blood and tissues
  • constriction of blood vessels
  • growth of new blood vessels
  • enhanced infection fighting
  • reduced risk of amputation

In the late 20th century, with close to a hundred years of experience in treating decompression illness and the formation of professional organizations such as The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and The American College of Hyperbaric Medicine Physicians, HBOT has become accepted as a staple of modern medicine. Performing HBOT requires that a patient's entire body be placed in a pressure vessel and the pressure is to then be increased. Once proper pressure is achieved then the patient will breathe 100% oxygen. A patient breathing 100% oxygen in a hospital or exam room is not HBOT. Likewise topical oxygenation, placing an extremity in an external device that covers a wound or taping a plastic bag over a wound, is not HBOT.

The hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber at Beaumont Hospital is a multi-place facility, of which there over 175 in use in the USA. Multi-place chambers are generally much larger and are designed to handle several patients at once. These can range from dual-place acrylic chamber to very large chambers that accommodate up to 30 patients. The larger chambers are usually constructed of steel with acrylic portholes for letting in light and allowing patients to look out. The size of a multi-place is only limited by the facility, patient load and financial concerns.

The advantages of a multi-place chamber are as follows:

  • large comfortable non-claustrophic environment
  • certified technologists attend to the patients needs
  • patients are able to read, watch TV and socialize with others.
  • more patients can be treated in the same session
  • handicapped patients can enter the chamber easier
  • large patient capacity reduces time of being placed on a waiting list for treatment