Many manufacturers of soft chambers have received warning letters from the FDA for making false medical claims, and for modifying inflatable chambers with oxygen fittings, making them hazardous and in violation of fire safety code (NFPA 99)
Soft inflatable bag chambers can only reach a maximum depth of 1.3 ATA internally, while the lowest protocol for hyperbaric medicine used by Physicians in the USA is 1.5 and above. You will never find an inflatable chamber in a hospital. In fact, studies show that oxygen cannot kill bacterial in pressures below 1.4 ATA and can in fact enhance the growth of some molds, bacteria and fungus.(Textbook of Hyperbaric Medicine, page 143,4th Revised Edition, K.K. Jain, et al.)
ALL of the research and medical case studies that reveal positive results using HBOT are used with medical grade steel chambers and not with inflatable chambers. Still, manufacturers and those treating patient with inflatable chambers are using this research, though they cannot provide the same results.
2. Is HBOT mainstream medicine?
Yes. There are several very important reasons why HBOT is mainstream, conventional medicine:
In the United States, the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, known as UHMS, lists approvals for reimbursement for certain diagnoses in hospitals and clinics. The following indications are approved uses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy as defined by the UHMS Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Committee:
In the United States, HBOT is recognized by Medicare as a reimbursable treatment for 13 UHMS "approved" conditions.
True Medical Grade HBOT requires a Physician prescription from an MD or a DO or Dental Surgeon.
As of January, 2010, HBOT is even being proposed to treat U.S. servicemen and women suffering with PTSD.
3. Are all freestanding HBOT centers medical grade?
No. As long as you select a hyperbaric facility that is staffed by a physician and that is run by the appropriate medical staff (nationally certified Hyperbaric Technicians, nurses and emergency medical personnel) you can have confidence in your local freestanding center. It would be wise to question the program manager of the facility to make sure safety and medical protocols are identical to that of a hospital hyperbaric unit - not all facilities are created equal. Also, only medical grade HBOT is paid by insurance. We are contracted with most insurers-- Ask your facility IF they take insurance. If they don't, it may be that they actually can not legally bill insurance because they do not meet requirements for a medical facility.
Hospital based HBOT centers are only limited to treating the abovementioned 13 Medicare approved conditions. They are unable to treat patients with other conditions that could be benefitted by HBOT. Freestanding facilities help fill this gap, but you must be smart about the location you consider for treatment. True medical grade HBOT requires a prescription from a physician that is an MD, DO or DDS. Medically appropriate staff members are Nationally Certified and you have a right to check on their certification status: http://nbdhmt.org/confirm_certification.asp Or CALL 1.803.434.7802 (National Board of Diving & Hyperbaric Medical Technology)
4. What does the treatment feel like?
Very comfortable. The treatment is painless and non-invasive. During the first and the last 8 to 10 minutes of the treatment (pressurization and depressurization), you may feel your ears pressurize similar to what you might experience in an airplane during take-off or landing. Your technician can teach you certain techniques that allow you to equalize the pressure in your ear(s) and help with any discomfort during these brief pressurization periods, such as the valsalva and jaw thrust maneuvers.
5. How many visits to the clinic will I need to complete my treatment?
The number of clinic visits (or sessions) you need to complete your treatment depends on your specific diagnosis or condition. For example, decompression sickness ("the bends") or smoke inhalation may take only 1-2 visits to the clinic. Radiation damage or certain types of bacterial infections may take 30 or more visits. There are Nationally established hyperbaric medical protocols for many diagnoses and conditions. We will work with your physician to determine what is best for you.
6. How long does each session last?
Each session lasts 1 to 2 hours. The actual treatment time during which the 100% pure oxygen is administered to the patient is 45-90 minutes, depending on the condition or diagnosis being treated. Your treatment time is predetermined by your health condition and specific protocol.
7. What do I do while in the chamber?
You simply sit or recline in one of our private chambers where pure, odorless 100% medical grade oxygen is administered throughout the entire chamber. During your treatment you can watch a movie, listen to music, meditate, or sleep. It's a great time to unwind and relax.
8. I am claustrophobic. Will I have problems being in the chamber?
No - our staff are experts at helping patients through their claustrophobic issues. We have the largest single occupancy chambers in Northern California. Our chambers are specially equipped where you maintain a measure of control over your treatment. In addition, our patients are comfortable in our spacious chambers and do not experience any confinement anxiety. Our technicians are experts in helping patients feel at ease! Many of our patients say, "I was scared before seeing the chamber the first time, but now it's not problem. I get right in!"
9. Will my health insurance pay for HBOT?
Possibly. We are currently contracted with many insurance companies and are continuing to work with other insurance companies. In the meantime, our medical director will be happy to write a letter of necessity for you to request pre-authorization from your insurance company. We will also gladly produce a super-bill for your personal submittance to your insurance company for reimbursement.
10. Why do I need a prescription for HBOT?
A written prescription from a physician (MD, DO or DDS) is required by federal law in the United States since 100% oxygen is considered a drug by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Also, ONLY a medical grade facility can legally fill your prescription. Insurance will only pay for treatment that is done in an approved facility. We adhere to strict treatment guidelines in order to insure your safety.