Sports-related injury and recovery have become big business and there are thousands of products and health services on the market to address the issues. One such treatment approach is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). HBOT has been around for a long time, in fact, the first documented use of a health-related hyperbaric chamber was in 1662 which ironically was done before the discovery of oxygen.
Now fast forward to today, HBOT has become very popular with athletes and some chronically ill people. The use of HBOT has advanced with changes in technology and the low cost of equipment, which even has people buying HBOT has a home therapy device.
Needless to say, many health care providers are not keen on the idea that an untrained person can self-treat with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Some even question the effectiveness of home-based "Mild Hyperbaric Chambers" for self-treatment with HBOT. Some research suggests it may not be providing any real benefit. With that said, people using them swear by the results and most note that their specific medical condition has improved.
Traditional HBOT is used to reduce inflammation significantly. This is a proven treatment method to promote wound healing, bone repair, recovery from surgeries, pain reduction and improve blood flow for diabetics just to name a few areas.
From an elite athletes perspective, HBOT can drastically reduce downtime due to injuries and get them back on the field in a fraction of the time it takes to heal traditionally. For this reason, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has become a go-to treatment in facilitating a speedier post-injury that some health providers feel is better for both short and long-term prognosis.
Professional sports teams such as the NFL and the NBA rely on the use of HBOT as a method to keep their players in the game. As treatment costs come down and home devices become more common, amateur athletes are moving to HBOT as a way to quicken recovery.
So should you consider using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy? First, let's understand what treatment looks like. Typically in a clinical setting, a patient is placed in a hyperbaric tank or chamber from 30 to 90 minutes on average. While in the pressurized chamber the patient breathes in 100 percent pure oxygen where the atmospheric pressure is increased. The increased air pressure and oxygen play an essential role in accelerating the reduction of inflammation, promotes cellular recovery and decreases traditional rehabilitation time.
The HBOT treatments have had a lot of research done proving their track record for accelerating the healing of sprains, tears, fractures and other sport-related injuries. Similar data supports the enhanced recovery from surgical procedures reducing pain, stimulating cell production and blood flow along with fibroblast activation.
Now HBOT is not without risk or side-effects. Common problems that can result from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is complications from oxygen toxicity, sinus, inner ear, and ocular damage. There can also be problems with people suffering from lung disease and cardiopulmonary issues.
Many healthcare professional will tell you that the best way to avoid side effects and complications of HBOT is to be treated by certified and trained medical staff. The home-based "Mild Hyperbaric Chambers" is less risky, but also have a less defined proven therapeutic benefit.
Many of the clinical studies that looked at the efficiency of HBOT for minor athletic injuries and faster recovery of soft tissue injuries have been small but studies are growing and the result is promising.
I think it is fair to say that more research is needed for the home use "Mild Hyperbaric Chambers" and they are relatively expensive with the cheaper units priced around $4000.00 and up. As for the clinical application and treatment, many find short and long-term relief for the various injuries, healing process and chronic illnesses. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is indeed worth looking into if you are struggling with specific chronic health or are recovering from a severe injury.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.