HBOT PATIENT FAQs

 
What is a hyperbaric chamber?
Hyperbaric chambers are used to administer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), a non-invasive procedure in which the patient breathes 100% oxygen. The patient is enclosed in a transparent chamber with an increase in atmospheric pressure, enabling a concentrated delivery of oxygen to damaged tissue for optimized healing.
 
What is HBOT?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is the delivery of oxygen to tissues, particularly damaged tissues, at greater than atmospheric pressure for healing. HBOT is a primary therapy in two indications: gas embolism and decompression sickness (The Bends). In all other cases, it is an adjunctive treatment given in addition to standard treatment protocols.
 
How does it work?
For a monoplace chamber, the patient will be surrounded by 100% oxygen. For a multiplace chamber, the patient will sit or lie with a clear hood on his/her head in order to breathe 100% oxygen. This oxygen-rich environment, along with the increase in air pressure, speeds and multiplies the concentration of Oxygen molecules to damaged or impaired tissues, thereby promoting healing.
 
What does treatment feel like?
The patient should feel nothing once at treatment pressure. During compression, the patient may have a slight pressure in their ears which can be alleviated by swallowing or opening their mouth and popping their ears. The internal chamber temperature may warm slightly, but will return to normal as soon as treatment pressure is obtained. During decompression, the patient may have a slight pressure in their ears which can be alleviated by swallowing or opening their mouth and popping their ears. The temperature again may change, but will return to typical upon completion of the profile.
 
These occurrences are all typical. Keep in mind that SMOOTH RIDE is making sure that ear squeeze is being abated throughout the entire profile for guaranteed patient comfort.
 
Is there anything I can do while I am inside the chamber?
Most chambers or treatment rooms are equipped with video entertainment systems, so you can watch television or movies while you are in the chamber. Some patients also listen to music through the speaker system, while others just sleep. The most important thing is to just relax.
 
Are there any side effects?
A very small percentage of patients experience a slight change in their vision; this side effect usually goes away within eight weeks of completing treatment. It is recommended that patients do not get a new prescription for their eyewear while they are receiving HBOT.
 
Can I take anything with me into the chamber?
Due to the oxygen rich environment, the only thing permitted in the chamber with you is a water bottle.
 
How long does it take?
Each treatment session will take approximately 1-1/2 – 2 hours. Treatments will continue for about 20-40 sessions, depending on the diagnosis.

What conditions are covered by insurance?
Currently, there are 15 categories of disorders treated with HBO that are approved for reimbursement by Medicare, Medicaid, and most 3rd party insurers, with some providing coverage for additional conditions. In most hyperbaric centers, non-healing diabetic foot wounds constitute a major segment of the patient population. As a result, hyperbaric centers have evolved into specialty centers that serve two distinct populations:

  • Patients with non-healing wounds resulting from diabetes, vascular disease, infections, trauma, or complications of radiation treatment. Depending on the etiology of the wound, treatment may involve a wide range of technologies in addition to HBOT.
  • Patients without wounds, but with disorders that are responsive to HBOT.

 
Who is eligible for HBOT?
The use of HBO therapy is covered as adjunctive therapy only after there are no measurable signs of healing for at least 30 days of treatment with standard wound therapy and must be used in addition to standard wound care.
 
Are there any indications when I would not be allowed to receive treatment?
The only absolute contraindication to HBOT is an untreated tension pneumothorax (an accumulation of air or gas in the pleural cavity of the lungs). There are several conditions in which caution must be observed. It is important to discuss your health history in addition to your current health condition with your physician and the hyperbaric treatment center.
 
Where can I receive treatment?
Talk to your doctor, or call your local hospitals to see if they offer hyperbaric treatment.
 
Do I need a prescription?
Yes. Oxygen is considered to be a drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in the United States, must be prescribed by a physician.
 
Can I eat and/or take medications before treatment?
Take all medications as directed by your doctor. Eat before you arrive. Avoid smoking immediately before and after hyperbaric treatment.
 
What if the computer stops working?
The chamber includes both manual and automatic control systems for operation in either manual or automatic mode. Controls are fully redundant to optimize safety during operation, such that the manual control can override each and all automatic functions. The manual mode will retain full chamber control in the event of automatic control system failure (e.g., loss of electrical power).
 
Do I need someone to drive me to/from treatment?
HBOT does not require any sedatives or other mind-altering medications. Therefore, you can drive yourself to and from treatment, unless you are otherwise unable to do so.
 
Who will be with me?
The hyperbaric technician will remain in the room at all times while you are inside the chamber, and a physician will be nearby as well.
 
What kind of background/training do the technicians have?
A CHT (certified hyperbaric technologist) must first be an emergency medical technician, dive medical technician or RN. Then one must complete a 40 hour introductory course and 480 hours of supervised chamber operations prior to taking the certification exam. All technicians work in accordance with and under the supervision of a licensed physician at all times.
 
What is BARA·PRESS?
BARA·PRESS is the software that controls hyperbaric chamber operations. The chamber also has manual controls that will retain full chamber control in the event of automatic control system failure (e.g., loss of electrical power).
 
What is SMOOTH RIDE?
SMOOTH RIDE is a compression protocol which automatically adjusts pressure in the chamber to allow for a more pleasant treatment experience. SMOOTH RIDE reduces the rate of barotrauma, or ear squeeze, by 67 percent. Facilities now using ETC chambers with SMOOTH RIDE have reported that it has nearly eradicated compression-related ear problems.
 
What is O.S.C.A.R.?
The Operating System for Control and Recordkeeping (O.S.C.A.R.) is a free-standing unit that is connected to the BARA MED Select for computerized operation of treatment.
 
What if I am claustrophobic?
The chamber is comprised of a clear acrylic tube, allowing the patient to see out in all directions. Most patients do not have trouble with claustrophobia, especially after receiving several treatments. The technician can make some recommendations if claustrophobia becomes a challenge.
 
Will I be lying down the whole time?
The gurney can be configured in such a way that you are in a reclined position. You may also be provided with pillows for added comfort.
 
Can I be treated if I have a cold/flu?
Let your technician know if you are having any symptoms unrelated to the diagnosis for which you are being treated.
 
Can a treatment be stopped at any time?
The technician has full control over the chamber, and a session can be stopped at any time.
 
What should I wear?
You will be given a set of all-cotton scrubs to change into for your treatment. Do not wear any perfumes, lotions, makeup, nail polish or haircare products when you come in for treatment.
 
Will I be able to talk to the chamber operator?
All BARA-MED chambers are equipped with a two-way speaker system, which also includes a phone handset for the operator to have private conversations with the patient.

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