A Brief History of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a relatively new therapy in the equine world. The past decade in the development of equine chamber design and treatment protocol draws directly from the foundation of the therapy in human medicine. The first primitive human pressure chamber was constructed in the mid-1600s. The initial recognition for the need of pressure and oxygen chambers began with treating decompression sickness for caisson workers and deep sea divers. Both chamber design and treatment protocols have evolved through many years of development with military and medical research. Human applications now recognize a list of thirteen conditions were it is effective as an adjunct therapy, including decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, osteomyelitis, soft tissue and bony necrosis, compromised grafts and flaps as well as acute burns. It is thanks to the many years of research in human medicine that has allowed veterinarians to research and develop applications in equine medicine.
How the Technology Works
The basic function of HBOT is to supply the patient with 100% oxygen to breathe while in a pressurized chamber. The pressure is measured in atmospheres absolute or ATA. 1 ATA is the normal pressure that we experience every day at sea level, and that air content is composed of approximately 79% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen. Similar to diving in water, the deeper a person dives, the pressure exerted on the body increases. For each 33 feet of sea water the body dives to, the ATA is increased by one. Therefore, sea level is 1 ATA, diving to 33 feet is 2 ATA, 66 feet is 3 ATA, and so on. This gives you an idea of how much pressure the body experiences when inside a pressurized chamber.