Do hyperbaric chambers make you think of “the bends”? These chambers are now used for several different purposes. Have you ever wondered, “exactly what are hyperbaric chambers?”
Keep reading this article to find out more about these chambers. You’ll learn about the parts and science involved in these machines.
What Are Hyperbaric Chambers?
A hyperbaric chamber uses pressure to deliver high levels of oxygen. The goal is to allow the individual to breathe pure oxygen in an enclosed environment.
This machine uses air pressure 1.5 to 3 times higher than found in normal air pressure. Most forms of hyperbaric treatment involve placing the whole body inside a chamber.
How Hyperbaric Chamber Works
A pressurized chamber exposes the patient to atmospheric pressures above the normal pressure. The chamber delivers high concentrations of 100% oxygen.
Hyperbaric medicine follows several gas laws. The most integral of these is Boyle’s Law. The Law says that the size of a gas bubble present in a liquid will get smaller when pressure increases.
Henry’s Law states that increased pressure will dissolve more gas. Charles’ Law addresses the impact of temperature on saturation and pressure. The Ideal Gas Law gives an overview of the relationship between gases, temperature, and pressure.
These Laws provide the rationale for how hyperbaric chambers work. The amount of gas, such as oxygen that can dissolve in a liquid, such as blood, depends on gas concentration. This balance relies on the proportion of surface gas concentration compared to the entire ambient pressure.
Treatment involved inducing hyperoxia or elevated oxygen levels. The patient lies inside the pressurized chamber and breathes 100% oxygen. This increases the oxygen level in the blood.
Hyperbaric therapy increases the lung’s oxygen level by as much as three times normal. The body needs oxygen for normal function. Damaged tissue often needs higher oxygen levels for healing.
Components of a Hyperbaric Chamber
All hyperbaric chambers must contain specific equipment and systems. The following describes the minimal configuration required for crewed chamber operation.
Containerized Double-Lock Chamber System
The chamber must have a Double-Lock recompression chamber and a gas supply system. An International Organization for Standards (ISO) container houses the gas supply.
The ISO container protects the chamber, electrical components, accessory equipment, and personnel. This prevents damage from harsh weather or environments.
This type of system allows for surface decompression, medical treatment, and training programs. The unit includes:
- Built-in breathing system (BIBS)
- Gas monitoring systems
- Fire suppression
- Environmental conditioning system
Timing devices are also key to ensuring proper treatment and safety.
Mono-lock/Mono and Multi-Place Chambers
This style chamber only has one lock and can treat one or more patients. The chamber can support medical treatment and training scenarios.
These chambers also have stretchers, BIBS, and systems to watch the gas concentration. Medical personnel can also transport patients to treatment facilities in the chamber. This allows the patient to remain in a pressurized environment during transit.
Each recompression chamber should include a primary and secondary system to supply air. It may contain air banks and/or an acceptable compressor.
The primary system must have the capability to deliver the right amount of air. This involves providing 165 feet of seawater (fsw) to the inner lock one time. It must also be able to provide 165 fsw to the outer lock twice.
Last, the primary system must have the capacity to ventilate the chamber.
A mono-place chamber’s primary air supply system should allow for chamber pressurization to 60 fsw once. It also must have the ability to ventilate the chamber.
Types of Hyperbaric Chambers
There are three main types of hyperbaric chambers. Each one comes with specific guidelines and purposes.
Mild Hyperbaric Chamber
To obtain a mild hyperbaric chamber, you will need to get a medical prescription. With a prescription, you may buy this medical equipment and use it at home or in an office.
It delivers 1.3 atmosphere absolute (ATA). This chamber is only intended for the delivery of low oxygen levels. Thus, it provides 99% oxygen from its concentrator.
Mono Place Chamber
The mono place chamber also needs a prescription before you can receive treatment. This machine is used in medical centers and hospitals. It’s designed to treat one patient at a time.
These machines are about 8 feet long and have a diameter of about 3 feet. The chamber walls contain transparent acrylic covers or windows. This allows the patient to look outside the machine and helps with claustrophobia.
They may also have a communication system so patients can talk with people outside. This helps to decrease the patient’s anxiety during treatment.
The operator can control the temperature inside the chamber. Patients must wear specific clothing while inside the chamber. They can’t have anything else in the chamber with them.
Patients are moved in and out of the chamber on a sliding stretcher. These chambers deliver 2.0 to 3.0 ATA and 100% oxygen. Treatments often last 90 to 120 minutes.
Multi Place Chamber
This style chamber can treat more than one person at a time. They can provide increased treatment flexibility and direct access to the patients. Patients need a medical referral to receive this treatment.
These chambers are most often found in hospitals. Multi-Place therapy involves pressurizing a steel room with air.
The patient wears a mask that delivers oxygen. Pressures of 3.0 ATA and higher can be administered via this setup.
Patients enter the chamber by walking or using specialized wheelchairs or stretchers. They may be required to sit, stand, or lie down during treatment. These rooms contain climate control systems to increase patient comfort.
Medical personnel monitor the patients throughout the treatment process. These chambers also have communications systems, and some offer video entertainment.
Are You in the Market for a Hyperbaric Chamber?
Have you wondered, “what are hyperbaric chambers?” This article provides an in-depth look at hyperbaric chambers.
Atlanta Hyperbaric Center offers mild hyperbaric chambers, which are FDA cleared Class II medical devices. We also sell new and used chambers.
Our center offers training programs and information about hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Dr. Louis Hilliard also consults with customers via private phone calls about hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Contact us today to ask questions and learn more about our products.