Hyperbaric Chamber of Medical Secrets

My dad’s friend, Jeffrey, came over for dinner last night. I hadn’t been aware of this, but he’s been in hospital receiving treatment for decompression illness, which he acquired while scuba diving. I won’t go into the details of that, but something that interested me in his rundown of events was the use of a certain kind of oxygen therapy by the hospital in treating the condition.

From what Jeffrey said, it seems to involve spending time in these things called a hyperbaric chambers. In Melbourne there aren’t that many facilities that have these oxygen chambers. Even so, their use is quite well established in current medicine. I didn’t fully grasp the whole concept, but it’s something to do with breathing air that contains more straight oxygen than ordinary air.

It seems that this is used to treat a whole range of conditions, not just decompression sickness. I think it’s sometimes used in conditions involving, like, necrotic tissues, because it enables more oxygen to reach the tissue that’s struggling to access it. Good stuff.  People are even getting into it as a way of attempting to mitigate certain effects of conditions like autism, to the extent that it’s possible to buy portable hyperbaric chambers for home use.

It’s pretty cool that there is, in fact, a solid treatment for decompression sickness – that whole shenanigan sounds pretty terrible. It’s also good that the technology exists here in Melbourne, so that Jeffrey was able to access it. It’s a funny thing with these advances in medical tech – I’ve never heard of hyperbaric therapy before, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

I wonder what people pay for these portable chamber systems. I’d imagine that it’s the kind of thing someone might choose to invest in if they new they were going to be having long-term, ongoing treatment; Jeffrey kind of insinuated that it wasn’t cheap receiving it at the hospital.

Barry Goes ‘Baric

The guy over the road, Jim, has been telling me about this treatment his brother, Barry, has been having for his circulation problems (don’t ask me for the details on that – I tend to tune out about Jim’s siblings health complaints, as there’s always a never-ending spiel of new additions to the list). Anyway, this thing is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and it involves getting into a sort of chamber in which you can breathe air with a higher oxygen content than usual.

By the sound of it, Barry is looking into buying a hyperbaric chamber for home use. Jim tells me that going to the hospital to receive the treatment really adds up over time – Barry’s been at it for a while now, and it seems like he’s going to need to keep getting the treatment in the future, so it makes sense for him to drop a bunch of cash on getting a portable chamber that he can set up in his house.

I asked Jim if administering this treatment is something that you’re meant to be medically qualified for. Jim reckons it’s considered pretty safe, and that the portable chambers are devised to be relatively foolproof. I didn’t quite believe him, so I had a quick look into what the  deal is with home-based hyperbaric medicine in Melbourne.

From what I can see, it looks like Jim might be right – it does seem to be legit for people to set up these portable chambers in their houses. Of course, it would make more sense in a lot of cases to go to a hospital for treatment – there are so many different conditions that this thing can be applied to. I get the sense that you’d invest in an at-home system if you were already familiarised with hospital-based hyperbaric therapy and needed long-term treatment.

Good old Jim; always teaching me something new about the world. At least this time I learned something other than how boring chats with neighbours can be!