bottom-banner -template -template-redirect BaroMedical Hyperbaric Oxygen Centre

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO)?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a mode of therapy in which the client breathes 100% oxygen at a pressure greater than normal atmospheric pressure within a hyperbaric chamber. This allows a substantial amount of oxygen to be dissolved in the liquid portion of the blood (plasma), thereby increasing the quantity of oxygen transferred to any tissue in the body 10 to 15 fold.

Back to the top

What can HBO do for me?

HBO increases the amount of dissolved oxygen available for tissue consumption, creating the optimum environment to enable the body to repair damaged organs, regenerate lost tissues, rejuvenate worn cells, and ultimately heal itself. The beneficial effects are reinforced through consistent and repeated HBO exposure.

Back to the top

How does it work?

HBO therapy exerts its effects through consistent, repeated saturation of the blood with oxygen, which is best achieved through inhalation of pure oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric (hyperbaric) pressure. To elaborate, our blood is composed of a solid component (predominantly red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) and a liquid component (plasma). When we breathe air at ambient pressure, oxygen is dissolved only in the red blood cells (solid component). Breathing pure oxygen at ambient pressure will cause some oxygen to be dissolved in the plasma (liquid component), but delivery of oxygen to end organs is still largely reliant on red blood cells. This is insufficient to meet the metabolic requirements of diseased organs and tissues with poor circulation. To overcome this problem, a substantial amount of oxygen must be dissolved in plasma to provide ample supply to compromised organs and tissues. This oxygen-rich plasma is attainable only through inhalation of 100% oxygen in a pressurized environment, and studies have shown that the minimum pressure required to achieve this is 1.5 ATA for the brain and 2.0 ATA for the rest of the body.

Back to the top

How does the therapy feel?

HBO therapy is painless and relaxing. You lie comfortably on a bed inside the oxygen-pressurized chamber while listening to music, watching TV, or taking a nap. Our clear acrylic monoplace chambers give the impression that you are relaxing inside a private cabin equipped with a personal entertainment system. 

During some treatment sessions, you may experience a sensation of fullness in your ears, similar to what you feel when flying in an airplane or driving down a mountain. As part of our orientation before the therapy, you will be taught how to clear your ears and avoid discomfort.

Back to the top

How many sessions do I need?

The number of sessions will depend on the condition being addressed, as well as your response to the therapy. While there are protocols in place regarding number of treatment sessions for specific conditions, it is important to note that each individual will respond differently to the same treatment and that the required number of sessions may be less or more than that suggested in the protocols.

Back to the top

How often should I do the therapy?

Daily therapy sessions are recommended as it takes time for the body to be sufficiently saturated with oxygen. Only when meaningful saturation is achieved can the cells and tissues respond positively to the effects of oxygen. For acute conditions, healing begins in as little as a few days, while in chronic conditions the initial cellular response is triggered only after 15 HBO sessions.

Back to the top

How soon can I see or feel a response from the therapy?

Generally speaking, the body requires between 15 to 20 HBO sessions before new blood vessels start to regrow (neovascularization) and healing truly begins. This is particularly true for chronic, longstanding conditions. However, it must be clearly understood that initiation of neovascularization does not necessarily translate to immediate symptomatic improvement. While it is possible to have improvement very early in the course of HBO therapy, keep in mind that HBO needs time to realize its full effect.

Back to the top

Will I continue to reap the benefits of HBO after I finish my therapy sessions?

Absolutely. The healing effect of HBO lingers long after completion of a treatment course. For instance, a minimum of 20 consecutive therapy sessions induces sustained new blood vessel formation (neovascularization), generating health benefits that persist for months after the therapy. The healing effect wanes over time though, so it is important to do maintenance sessions to keep the effect at its peak.

Back to the top

What are the risks associated with HBO?

Like all healthcare treatments and procedures, there are some risks associated with HBO. These risks are quite rare and are associated with extremely long exposure times at very high pressures, parameters typically used in research to study the effects of HBO. The protocols used during HBO therapy have shorter exposure times and lower pressures compared to the ones used in research, and are designed to be effective while minimizing the associated risks. Upon acceptance for HBO therapy, you will be informed of these risks and oriented on the precautionary measures undertaken in our facility. Rest assured that your safety and comfort is our main priority.

Back to the top

What are its side effects?

Generally, clients experience no side effects from HBO. However, some report fullness or crackling in their ears after a session. This is expected and will spontaneously resolve overnight or the following morning. Others report changes in their eyesight, but not significant as to impede their ability to perform daily activities. The change is temporary and pre-treatment eyesight levels are restored within a few weeks after cessation of treatment.

Back to the top

What are oxygen free radicals? Will HBO induce more of them/its damages?

Oxygen free radicals, collectively called reactive oxygen species, are produced when oxygen is metabolized by the cells in our body. Our white blood cells also produce reactive oxygen species that are vital in the body’s defense against infection. However, excessive amounts can lead to damage of cellular components including DNA. This is exactly why our body is equipped with antioxidants to neutralize excess reactive oxygen species.

HBO can temporarily induce more production of reactive oxygen species, but more importantly it stimulates increased antioxidant activity that persists long after the therapy session. Repeated HBO therapy eventually leads to increased tolerance to oxidative stress and resistance to damage from reactive oxygen species. This is one of HBO’s mechanisms of action, and is the cornerstone behind preconditioning the brain and the heart to prevent recurrent strokes and minimize complications from heart attacks.

Back to the top

I’m interested in doing HBO. Do I need a doctor’s referral?

We do not require a doctor’s referral to accept clients for the therapy. We do perform an initial screening consultation as part of our intake procedure to clear our clients prior to the start of therapy.

Back to the top

Why do I need to undergo another consultation if I have already been to my doctor?

The initial screening consultation enables us to determine whether or not the therapy is suitable and safe for anyone considering the therapy, and allows us to formulate the best treatment plan for each client. There are certain pre-existing conditions that may predispose a client to develop complications while inside the chamber, and we need to screen carefully to prevent these complications from arising.

Back to the top

My doctor says it is a waste of time and money.

Your doctor is certainly entitled to his or her own opinion, and we respect the views of the medical community. Nevertheless, it is important to note there is a vast amount of available and ongoing research (both laboratory and clinical) showing the effectiveness of HBO in addressing various medical and surgical conditions. The best we can do is to share with you our knowledge and expertise, as well as available literature to help you make a well-informed decision.

Back to the top

How much does the therapy cost? Is it covered by MSP or extended healthcare providers?

You can find our fee schedule here. We offer prepaid packages for clients undergoing a set number of sessions to honor their commitment to the therapy.

Although the Medical Service Plan of British Columbia currently acknowledges the benefits and use of HBO therapy for a limited set of conditions, no direct coverage is presently provided outside Vancouver General Hospital’s hyperbaric unit. As for extended healthcare benefits, please check with your insurance company if coverage for HBO is provided. We encourage you to obtain a referral from your physician for insurance claim purposes.

Back to the top

How soon can I book an appointment?

We operate four top-of-the-line monoplace (single occupancy) hyperbaric oxygen chambers, giving us great flexibility to accommodate our clients. If you wish to book an appointment, please contact us at least a day in advance and we will work with you to come up with a schedule that works best for you. We can be reached at 604-777-7055.

Back to the top

How are you different from the other hyperbaric facilities around the area?

We are the only facility in the lower mainland that utilizes monoplace hyperbaric chambers to deliver HBO therapy. These chambers provide the most efficient, most comfortable, and safest treatment. Compression is achieved using 100% medical grade oxygen flowing at a high rate. This obviates the need for a mask or a hood and results in 12 to 15% more oxygen absorption when compared to multiplace chambers.

Equally important is our personnel. We are a team of experts in diving physiology, neurophysiology, and rehabilitation engineering, and we are staffed with international doctors who are trained in hyperbaric medicine. Together we work to educate our clients about HBO and to ensure they have safe and timely access to HBO therapy that is delivered professionally and in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

Back to the top

Why is my local spa/health centre offering much cheaper HBO?

Certain devices used to deliver oxygen may be marketed as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This is not only inaccurate, but is also misleading and potentially hazardous. Before committing to therapy, check first if oxygen is truly being delivered under hyperbaric conditions. As defined by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment in which a person breathes near 100% oxygen while inside a treatment chamber at a pressure higher than sea level. Specifically, the chamber pressure should be at least 1.4 ATA. Therapy delivered through soft inflatable chambers (mild hyperbarics) or topically (topical hyperbaric oxygen therapy) is not considered hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Back to the top

What are soft inflatable hyperbaric chambers? What about mild hyperbarics?

Breathing oxygen enriched air in a soft inflatable chamber (also known as mild hyperbarics) does not constitute hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These inflatable chambers have a maximum rated chamber pressure of 1.3 ATA unless tampered, after which they pose a serious safety hazard. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works by dissolving a substantial amount of oxygen in blood plasma to provide ample supply to compromised organs and tissues. This oxygen-rich plasma is attainable only through inhalation of 100% oxygen in a pressurized environment, and studies have shown that the minimum pressure required to achieve this is 1.5 ATA for the brain and 2.0 ATA for the rest of the body. Lower pressures attained in soft inflatable chambers are not enough to saturate the blood with oxygen, which is a requisite for hyperbaric oxygen therapy to exert its effect and help heal the ailing body.

Back to the top

What about topical hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Topical oxygen therapy (erroneously called topical hyperbaric oxygen therapy) entails delivery of oxygen locally to the limb or body through a portable, inflatable, airtight chamber or bag. These chambers are pressurized to just slightly above atmospheric pressure (1.004 to 1.013 ATA is recommended) because higher pressures could paradoxically decrease arterial and capillary blood inflow. The theory behind topical oxygen application is that oxygen is absorbed directly by the wound to facilitate healing, though oxygen has limited skin penetration (only to a depth of 2mm). This lack of penetration together with absence of meaningful increase in blood oxygen saturation means that the therapy is not equivalent to HBO, and the low recommended pressure means it does not constitute hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Back to the top

Proudly serving Metro Vancouver and British Columbians with hyperbaric oxygen services and wound care since 1999

© 2017 BaroMedical Research Centre, Inc. All Rights Reserved

7850 Sixth Street - Burnaby V3N 3N3 - British Columbia - Vancouver - CANADA - Ph: 604-777-7055

 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.