Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.   How Does HBO Work?


Essentially, hyperbaric oxygen treatments use a combination of elevated ambient pressure and inspired oxygen concentration to greatly increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. This elevated oxygen concentration allows oxygenation of tissues that are not getting enough oxygen at baseline, encourages new blood vessels to grow into these oxygen deprived tissues, and helps the body eliminate certain kinds of bacteria.  Please see the link below for a more through discussion.

Mechanism of Action

Q2.  Why do you use all the nautical/diving terms?


Basically, while there were attempts to use compressed air to treat diseases as early as the 17th century (please see the history of HBO page for more details), much of the technology and information that we currently use in clinical hyperbaric oxygen therapy was developed by the world's navies during World War Two as a result of the development of military divers (”frogmen”) and underwater demolitions.  In addition, many of the pioneers of hyperbaric medicine were from a military background, and many current practitioners became interested in hyperbaric medicine through diving-related experiences.  Thus, this diving-related terminology continues to be used even though clinical hyperbaric practice has evolved away from it's under-water beginnings.  Please see the nautical terms question under the Patient FAQ for a list of these terms and their definitions.

Q3.  Are there different types of chambers?


Yes.  Chambers are classified into two categories: Monoplace and Multiplace.

  • Monoplace chambers are defined as a chamber that is designed to accommodate only one patient at a time.  Generally, these consist of an acrylic tube with a door at one end through which the patient is inserted into the chamber.  They can be compressed with either air or oxygen.  These chambers have the advantage of needing less physical space, and tend to be less expensive to purchase, maintain, and staff.  The disadvantages are that they allow only limited access to the patient and tend to restrict patient positioning.

  • Mulitplace chambers by definition are those that are designed to accommodate two or more patients.  Some of these chambers are massive and can hold 20 or more people.  These chambers are fairly large and custom made.  Thus, they require a large physical space and significant infrastructure to operate, and can be very expensive to acquire, maintain, and staff.  They are compressed with air and patients breath oxygen through a hood or mask.  The advantages are that they allow for an inside attendant so full access to all patients is possible, which makes caring for very ill patients easier.  Also, their size tends to minimize claustrophobia in susceptible patients.  Finally, for very busy services, they allow more patients to be treated at the same time. 

Our chamber is a multiplace chamber that can accommodate up to six patients plus an inside attendant.

Q4.  What training is required to practice hyperbaric medicine?


Physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists can all receive training in hyperbaric medicine.  In general, any health care professional interested in hyperbaric medicine must first obtain primary training in their chosen career (i.e. nurses and respiratory therapists must obtain their respective degrees and physicians must obtain their medical degrees and complete a residency of their choice).  After completion of their primary training, these professionals can then attend additional courses that train them specifically in hyperbaric medicine.  After these courses are completed, all participants can sit for an exam to become Certified Hyperbaric Technologists (CHT). 

In addition to this CHT certification, nurses have the option to become a Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (CRHN) and go on to more advanced certification such as Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (ACHRN) and Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse Practitioner (CHRNP).

Physicians may also receive additional training in hyperbarics by completing a hyperbaric fellowship (additional post-residency training) and can become board certified in Hyperbaric and Undersea Medicine through the American Board of Preventative Medicine.

Please see the links page for links where you can obtain additional information on HBO training and certification.