What is a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber and How Does It Work?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) exists as an effective treatment for specific health conditions, including decompression sickness, serious infections, non-healing wounds, and severe burns. Advancements in HBOT science have also emerged, expanding the potential of HBOT’s impact. Yet, not all HBOT chambers are the same. The mechanisms by which each chamber works serve different purposes. It’s important to understand how these chambers operate and what benefits can be achieved in order to reach your health goals.
Monoplace vs. Multiplace HBOT Chambers
Aviv Clinics uses the world’s most advanced multiplace hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers.
Two main types of HBOT chambers exist: multiplace and monoplace. Monoplace HBOT chambers also take two forms—hard-sided and soft-sided. Both forms are designed to only accommodate one person at a time.
Soft-sided monoplace chambers, often referred to as bag HBOT chambers, are primarily used “on the go.” These HBOT chambers pressurize to a minimum amount of pressure and deliver only a slightly higher dose of oxygen than what you’re breathing in the natural environment.
Soft-sided HBOT chambers are mostly used for anti-inflammation and workout or game recovery. You’ll often see them in sports medicine clinics. Bag chambers are also used in mountain climbing. If a climber starts to suffer from altitude sickness, being in the bag chamber allows them to return to sea level faster and start recovery as they are airlifted to safety.
The other type of monoplace HBOT chamber is constructed of more rigid materials, such as plexiglass. You’ll typically find these chambers in wound care clinics. They are pressurized to an atmospheric level that is predetermined (and prescribed) by a patient’s physician. Patients breathe 100% oxygen during the entire therapeutic session, a length of time that is factored into the prescription.
Because patients are separated from clinicians during the HBOT treatment in this type of monoplace chamber, it can become problematic if the patient experiences any sort of health event mid-therapy. A depressurization process must take place before the patient can exit the chamber—which takes time. Plus, if a patient happens to be undergoing a seizure, that depressurization cannot commence until the person stops seizing.
While seizure occurrence is rare during a medical HBOT treatment, it can happen—and is more likely in patients who have pre-existing seizure disorders or a history of low blood sugar. A related complication is there’s no way for clinicians to medically assess what’s happening at that very moment and implement medical treatment.
A third disadvantage is that monoplace HBOT chambers hold a heightened risk for fire. It’s crucial that no electronics are allowed in the monoplace chambers to prevent this risk.
Multiplace HBOT chambers treat multiple individuals at the same time. These chambers are commonly used in the diving industry—for example, in commercial diving for underwater construction and maintenance. However, advancements in HBOT science have led to other medical uses around the world.
At Aviv you will find multiplace HBOT chambers that are more like suites; a little like flying business class, they are spacious, comfortable, and private. Created in partnership with Fink Engineering, the world’s premier provider of hyperbaric suites, our HBOT chambers are the most technologically advanced, and most importantly, your safety is guaranteed.
In multiplace chambers, individuals are also breathing 100% oxygen in a highly pressurized environment. But, each person has their own breathing apparatus. One distinct advantage of multiple chambers is the ability to have a medical professional in the chamber while individuals are undergoing their HBOT treatment—unlike the monoplace chamber’s limitations.
Ultimately, safety is of utmost importance in HBOT treatment. Most medical HBOT facilities that are run through a hospital or clinic are operating with the proper certifications, whether using monoplace or multiplace chambers. At Aviv Clinics, all physicians, nurses, and hyperbaric technologists undergo in-depth training and have reached certification status. However, it’s important to keep in mind not all facilities meet these stringent safety standards.
Advancements in HBOT Science
Modern hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocols go beyond addressing a specific condition. The science, technology, and unique protocols of the Aviv Medical Program—and the design of the clinic’s multiplace HBOT chambers—work proactively to maximize overall health. In other words, the Aviv Clinics HBOT chambers offer more than just oxygen therapy.
The foundational aspects of HBOT treatment are still in play: The multiplace chamber is pressurized to the optimal level, which takes about 10 minutes. Once the target pressure is reached, individuals begin breathing 100% oxygen for a period of 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, masks are removed for five minutes. Total treatment time of two hours.
This on/off alternating protocol of oxygen fluctuation tricks the body into thinking it is in low-oxygen distress. The body’s natural reaction to the rapid decline in oxygen levels is the creation of new stem cells. It also triggers something called hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), which plays a role in angiogenesis, or the creation of new blood vessels.
Both are instrumental in healing and rejuvenating various parts of the body and brain, in cases such as:
HBOT and the Aviv Medical Program protocols also contribute to enhanced physical performance, cognitive performance, and overall vitality and quality of life.
The Bottom Line
If you’re considering HBOT to progress your health, it’s imperative to know the advantages and potential limitations of the different types of HBOT chambers—and which chamber will best help you reach your goals.
Contact us if you have any questions about HBOT treatments or would like to explore how the Aviv Medical Program can benefit you or a loved one.
Choosing the Right Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Program for You
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has become available for more health conditions to help extend healthspan, improve physical performance, and manage cognitive decline. As more facilities providing HBOT open, different types of HBOT technology and treatment protocols have appeared. It has become increasingly important to understand the differences and identify the option best able to meet your health goals and needs.
What are the types of hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers?
There are two types of hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers: multiplace and monoplace chambers.
Multiplace chambers are large, modern, comfortable rooms that feature cushioned seating. They are designed much like a first class airplane seat, with personal entertainment tablets. Aviv Clinics clients receive their HBOT treatments in spacious multiplace chambers that allow them to sit comfortably and engage in brain training during the course of the session.
Aviv Clinics – Multiplace chamber HBOT suite
Monoplace chambers are rigid glass or plastic tubes that are meant for one person. Patients must use them lying down. Most clinics use monoplace chambers. People who are claustrophobic in small spaces might find them confining. People sometimes associate them with hospital burn units, wound care facilities, or MRI machines. They are sometimes even referred to as “Michael Jackson” tubes because the singer reportedly used this method from time to time.
What treatment program is used for HBOT?
HBOT treatment programs can range widely, so it is important to understand which protocol best fits your health goals. Some facilities offer single, spa-like experiences, while others provide basic HBOT for a few sessions to address specific issues. On the other end of the spectrum are comprehensive, research-backed programs, such as the Aviv Medical Program, that address issues such as mild cognitive decline, stroke, Lyme disease, PTSD and fibromyalgia.
Basic hyperbaric oxygen therapy for specific issues, such as gangrene, non-healing wounds, infections, and “the bends” experienced by some divers, has been used for decades. For these conditions, the number of HBOT treatments can be as few as one or two sessions.
A comprehensive HBOT treatment protocol, like the Aviv Medical Program, addresses issues that affect your healthspan and physical and mental performance. It differs not only because of the length—every client does at least 60, two-hour HBOT “dives” throughout the 12-week program—but also because it encompasses more than just hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Clients receive individualized exercise and nutrition coaching, as well as regular check-ins with a multidisciplinary team of physicians, physiologists, nutritionists, neuropsychologists, and other health professionals.
Be aware of clinics that offer unclear treatment protocols. Some of these facilities promote their services as more of a spa-like experience, with no standardized treatment plans or science-backed evidence to support their claims.
Is the HBOT program backed by research?
Review whether the facility you are considering has developed its treatment protocols based on scientific, peer-reviewed research. Every treatment you choose has the ability to affect your body positively or negatively, so doing your research and choosing a reputable clinic is paramount.
The pressure and length of treatments, as well as the oxygen dosage used in Aviv’s HBOT treatments, are the result of over a decade of peer-reviewed scientific research. This comprehensive protocol has been shown to maximize the body’s own regenerative power. It is a unique, proprietary system of modulated oxygen exposure that is only offered by Aviv Clinics.
What type of expert/clinician support is available?
An important consideration when choosing your hyperbaric oxygen therapy clinic is the type of expert support available to provide treatment and guidance. The best treatment protocols include a multidisciplinary team.
At Aviv Clinics, clients have access to an expert clinician team that includes physicians, physiologists, psychologists, and nutritionists throughout the 12-week program. The team continues to stay in contact with clients even after the treatment course to ensure they continue their progress. Subsequent six-month follow-up assessments are also part of the program and help clients continue to track their progress.
What assessments are performed?
Tracking progress from the start of the treatment course is needed to confirm whether your health goals were reached. Some clinics include scanning and diagnostic assessments as part of their offerings.
Aviv Clinics offers the industry’s most comprehensive battery of cognitive and physical tests to set a baseline for each client at the start. The Aviv Medical Program assessments include:
- In-depth medical intakes performed by our expert clinical team, including physicians, neuropsychologists, physiologists, physical therapists, and nutritionists
- Full battery of computerized cognitive testing that includes evaluation of your memory, focus, information processing speed, attention, and executive function
- Extensive blood tests
- Advanced MRI brain imaging protocols (anatomical, perfusion, microstructure)
- CPET – a heart and lung performance test to measure how the body produces energy with and without oxygen
- Body composition analysis, including gait, balance, and overall motor functions
- Full genetic sequencing
- Cellular performance tests including a stem cell count and assessment of aging biomarkers such as telomeres, which help to calculate your true biological age
The assessments are repeated at the end of the program. This allows our team to provide clients with a full report, summarizing progress throughout the program, and providing the data and analysis necessary to move forward with health and wellness goals.
Will there be medical support during the HBOT session?
Having professional oversight and support during your HBOT treatment is a critical consideration. At facilities that use small, monoplace tubes, clients are typically monitored through cameras.
At Aviv Clinics, a nurse is present inside the HBOT suite to support clients and ensure appropriate treatment during all hyperbaric dives. A trained technician also monitors the session from outside of the chamber. A physician is on site at all times during treatments as safety is Aviv’s top priority.
Is a comprehensive progress report provided?
Many condition-specific or other facilities work on a session-to-session basis. Even if a long-term recovery plan is the purpose, they may only track progress per HBOT treatment.
Aviv Clinics takes a holistic approach by providing all-encompassing and in-depth reports. After clients complete the Aviv Medical Program, the clinician team provides a detailed before-and-after cognitive and physiological analysis, showing their markers of improvement. Clients review their progress, one-on-one with the physician, who explains and interprets the data, and provides next steps.
The Bottom Line
An HBOT treatment protocol that is backed by research, supported by a multidisciplinary and caring clinician team, and a full range of assessments to show progress are all important considerations for choosing the right HBOT clinic to meet your health goals.
The Aviv Medical Program is rooted in extensive scientific research and trials conducted on HBOT treatment for a variety of conditions, including reversing the signs of biological aging, mild cognitive decline (MCI), post-stroke recovery, Traumatic brain injury (TBI), Lyme disease, and Fibromyalgia.