Hyperbaric oxygen chambers, once used only to treat divers with bends, are increasingly being used to treat patients with COVID-19, with spectacular success. Although the numbers are small, many physicians say hyperbaric oxygen treatment is saving the lives of even the most critically ill coronavirus patients. Dr. Paul Harch, director of hyperbaric medicine at Louisiana State University in New Orleans and founder of HBOT.com, says HBOT appears to be effective in most coronavirus cases.
Understanding hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment
In hyperbaric oxygen therapy, subjects are placed in a chamber containing 100% oxygen at a pressure exceeding one absolute atmosphere (ATA); it is used primarily to treat hypoxia-related diseases. There are several treatment options, which vary depending on the pathology. For example, treatment for diabetic wounds typically lasts 30 to 40 days at pressures of 2.0 to 2.4 ATA, while for stroke, the treatment used in several studies lasted two months and subjects received five days of treatment in two ATAs. by providing a high-pressure oxygen-rich environment, hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment increases the concentration of dissolved oxygen in plasma and arterial oxygen pressure, which in turn may contribute to the supply of oxygen to hypoxic tissues.
The first hyperbaric oxygen chambers were built in 1662 by Nathaniel Henshaw, an English physician. Unlike modern hyperbaric chambers, the first chamber used compressed air rather than pure oxygen because of concerns about oxygen toxicity, which were later alleviated. Traditionally, hyperbaric oxygen treatment was used to speed tissue recovery from wounds and infections, to help with procedures such as heart surgery, to alleviate carbon monoxide poisoning, and to treat other diseases. Because hypoxia has been identified as a key problem in several neurological disorders, hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment has since been studied in the context of neurobiological properties and shown to improve biological and behavioral deficits, as will be discussed further in this review. For example, in TBI, hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment was found to improve CBF, restore impaired brain metabolism as indicated by increased levels of brain adenosine triphosphate (ATP) expression in a rat model of TBI, reduce secondary cell death and neuroinflammation in a rat model of TBI, and improve neuroplasticity. In addition, improvements in memory and cognitive function were found in mice models with chronic cognitive impairment and treated AD. Recently, hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment has also been evaluated for several NDDs, such as autism. Although the role of hypoxia in these disorders is unclear, hyperbaric oxygen treatment was found to improve several aspects of their pathology.