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Oxygen is life

21 June 2009 No Comment

Eleanor Bron
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a new phenomenon. However, oxygen as a therapy has been used from as early as the 1660’s.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy was presumably developed by the U.S. military after the First World War to cure deep sea divers of decompression sickness. It was during these tests and trials that the medicinal qualities of hyperbaric oxygen chambers were discovered. In hyperbaric oxygen chambers patients breathe pure oxygen while in a chamber with increased atmospheric pressure.

Dr Gregory Weir says that this stimulates blood circulation and increases the blood oxygen count at least 15 fold. (PaO2 100 up to PaO2 1500mm Hg). Carbon Monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, arterial gas embolism, gas gangrene, serious tissue swelling, wounds, necrotising infections, acute blood loss, therapeutic radiation tissue damage, compromised skin grafts, acute thermal burns, brain abscesses and refractory osteomyelitis (bone infections) are the conditions that are internationally accepted as treatable with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
The therapy takes place in a chamber so that all the processes can be monitored. When the atmospheric pressure in the chamber has reached the right level, pure oxygen is breathed in. The therapy isn’t painful and doesn’t cause discomfort. In some instances the patient just sits on a couch or bed in the chamber. Patients who receive the therapy must be referred for therapy by a doctor. When blood oxygen levels increase it means that more oxygen is available in cells.

Oxygen is a key to the natural healing process. The increased oxygen in the body thus speeds up natural healing processes. The increased pressure and raised oxygen level ensures that oxygen even reaches some areas of the body that might be restricted due to fractures and swelling. The list of ailments that can be treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is constantly growing. Other ailments that can be relieved by the therapy are still experimental and are not covered by medical aids.

At the Eugene Marais Hospital in Pretoria there are two Hyperbaric Oxygen chambers. The Pretoria East Hospital as well as the Pretoria Academic Hospital has these facilities.

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