Vascular & Hyperbaric Unit

Chambers 2015-02-11

How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?


The sequence below explains the process your body experiences during a hyperbaric oxygen therapy session:


1. Normal Blood Flow

There is 21% oxygen in the air that we breathe, and our lungs transfer this oxygen to our red blood cells (via haemoglobin). These oxygen-filled red blood cells are carried around the body by the plasma (fluid), which travels through the blood vessels. The oxygen diffuses into the surrounding tissue ensuring that it is delivered to where it is needed most.


2. Restricted Blood Flow

When there is a restriction (occlusion) in blood flow due to surgery, illness, or injury, the red blood cells block the blood vessel and are unable to transfer oxygen to the cells on the down side of the occlusion. This can cause swelling, reduces blood flow (ischeamia) and starves the area of oxygen, causing hypoxia (a lack of oxygen). When this occurs the tissue, cells and organs begin to break down, degenerate and have the potential to die.


3. Hyperbaric Oxygenation

Breathing 100% oxygen under pressure causes the oxygen to diffuse into the blood plasma. This, now oxygen-rich plasma is able to travel past the restriction, diffusing up to 4 times further into the tissue. The pressurised environment helps to reduce swelling and discomfort, while providing the body with at least 10 times its normal supply of oxygen to help repair tissue damaged caused by the original occlusion and the subsequent hypoxic condition.


4. Blood Vessel Regeneration (Angiogenesis)

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) forces more oxygen into the plasma and surrounding tissue, encouraging the formation of new blood vessels. As these new blood vessels develop, the red blood cells start to flow, delivering even more oxygen to the affected area. This creates the optimal environment for the body’s own healing processes to repair damaged tissue. HBOT has the potential to effectively resolve tissue, cells and organ function as well as reducing rehabilitation time.