Understanding Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment
While the use of high-pressure oxygen (hyperbaric oxygen) for clinical use has come a long way since it first came to the United States in 1964, there is still a growing need for education on the subject. Physicians and other non-medical personnel work in hyperbaric facilities around the world, and they need to be well trained in operating these facilities. Chamber operators and attendants must not only be knowledgeable about the risks and benefits of hyperbaric treatments, they need to be able to convey this information to the patient.
Obviously, the specifics of chamber operation and safety are important. This includes the oxygen safety requirements for patients and personnel, equipment, and chamber fire safety. While oxygen has many therapeutic benefits, there are also inherent risks to its use. Personnel working along with the physicians must understand that oxygen is a non-pharmaceutical agent that can be purchased by anyone, anywhere in the world. People using oxygen must be aware of the dosage, the duration of use, and what to expect to get from using it.
Facility personnel must be aware of the many side effects that can be caused by oxygen use. Oxygen can have dangerous interactions with some medications- either causing the medication to become toxic, or the medicine making oxygen more toxic. For example, benzodiazepines are a respiratory depressant, and when combined with oxygen therapy can cause a patient to become apneic. Our course will make students aware of other physical events that may occur that will limit the ability to use oxygen, as well as the interaction between antibiotics and DNA. Students will learn about central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity, pulmonary oxygen toxicity, as well as contraindications that may prevent a patient from being treated.
Contraindications to treatment come in two varieties: absolute, and relative. Absolute contraindications are circumstances that would prevent a patient from being accepted into an HBO treatment program. Relative contraindications may preclude a patient from receiving treatment on a given day, but can be resolved to allow for future treatment, such as having a cold or taking certain medications. These, and many other complications and side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, will be covered in our 40 CME program.
Learn more about the course here.
Hyperbarics International has been teaching diving and clinical hyperbaric medicine for over 40 years. In that time, the understanding of physiology and pathophysiology has changed dramatically, thereby changing the approach to treating diving injuries.
For many years diving related injuries were treated at pressures equivalent to deeper depths. In 1965 Captain Charles Waite found that the period of the most bubble dissipation occurred between 60-90 feet. The hydrostatic pressure component of treating bubbles at 165 feet became irrelevant, and isobaric (constant pressure) counter diffusion became the leading method used in hyperbaric treatments. . In addition to 60 feet being an optimal depth for dissipation of bubbles, it was also found that oxygen becomes highly toxic to the central nervous system at depths greater than 60 feet. Most hospital based chambers treating recreational divers will generally never exceed this depth. While there are more hyperbaric treatment facilities in operation now, it can still take an average of 4-6 hours to get a recreational scuba diver to one of these facilities.
Getting a diver suffering from any type of decompression illness (DCI) to a hyperbaric treatment facility in a timely manner is very important. Within just 10-15 minutes, gas bubbles can activate the clotting process in a person’s blood. This clotting can preclude venous and/or arterial blood flow in the region of perfusion, leading to more serious injury. Further injury can result from the body’s release of basal-active substances which lead to inflammation, swelling, reduction of blood flow, and white cell migration which can lead to further tissue injury. Fortunately, many of the initial effects of DCI are reversible with rapid access to proper treatment.
You can learn more about this subject and other issues pertaining to the treatment of treating diving casualties in our Diver/Clinical Hyperbaric Training Programs. Call for more information, or download your registration form to get started!
What is Nitrox?
The term Nitrox refers to air that is enriched with oxygen. The first breath that we took when we came into this world was a form of Nitrox called normoxic Nitrox. Normoxic refers to air that contains the same amount of oxygen as the ambient air around us (roughly 21%).
For years, the Navy and commercial divers have been using different combinations of oxygen and nitrogen during their diving operations. In 1970 Dr. Morgan Wells brought Nitrox into use for scientific diving by making it available through an open circuit demand scuba system. Using the Enriched Air Diving (EAD) concept, he devised the NOAA Nitrox mix which utilizes 32% oxygen. Air that contains more oxygen than ambient air is considered hyperoxic. Upon retiring from NOAA in 1985, Dick Rutkowski began teaching NOAA Nitrox diving to the recreational diving community.
At this time Mr. Rutkowski and several other members of the diving community- Tom Mount, Bill Deans, and Brent Gillum- formed the International Association of Nitrox Divers (IAND), now the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD). These pioneers sought to promote the physiological advantage that enriched air nitrox provides to divers. This was especially helpful as the mid 1980’s saw a boom of ships being scuttled to promote artificial reef systems.
In addition to increasing the bottom time and no decompression limits of recreational scuba divers, these hyperoxic gas mixes are also beneficial in hyperbaric medical treatments. Using higher oxygen concentrations under pressure, as is done in hyperbaric treatment, helps the oxygen to better perfuse tissues to promote healing or rid the body of nitrogen gas bubbles. Our Hyperbaric Medical Training programs will teach you how the use of Nitrox can treat diving injuries as well as medical conditions. Explore our site to learn more about our Hyperbaric Medical Training programs, or click here to download your registration form.
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What are the Benefits of a Hyperbaric Chamber?
Hyperbaric medicine is when oxygen is used for medical purposes. It is done in a manner that sees it distributed at a level that is more than the atmospheric pressure. In this case, 100% oxygen is entering into the body at a pressure that is greater than the ambient atmosphere. Typically, humans breathe 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen. This slowly builds the oxygen that appears in our blood plasma and is taken to the cells and tissues in the body.
When a person uses a hyperbaric chamber for oxygen delivery, there are a few medical benefits of hyperbaric treatment they receive. First, there is the benefit to the entire system of tissues that may have experienced damage from a lack of oxygen flow. This also allows the regrowth of blood vessels and the improvement of blood flow in areas where there may have been previous blockage.
As hyperbaric oxygen begins, there is an increase in the flow of oxygen to any tissues that may have previously been compromised. It can also help to increase the levels of superoxide dismutase that the body uses as an antioxidant to protect itself against free radicals.
Finally, the hyperbaric chamber will also help to aid in the treatment of infections in the body. This is done by enhancing the ability to heal that the white blood cells have. That makes this an exceptional choice for people to consider as part of their hyperbaric therapy.
While individual results will vary, most patients will find that this is the best forms of treatment for them. This is especially the case in those who have blood circulation problems and severe infections like gangrene which requires additional therapy in order to keep the tissues of the body alive, while they combat this deadly infection that can quickly spread.
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