Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a well-recognized medical treatment which enhances the body’s natural healing processes. HBOT consists of delivering up to 100% oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure. HBOT has been widely employed throughout the world for decades to treat a large array of medical conditions.
HBOT is administered at Lordex Spine Center of Columbia, P.C. under the collaboration of Dr Brooks Travis, D.C. and Dr. Sudhir Batchu, M.D., M.S. in a monoplace chamber. Clear windows allow trained Staff and or HBO technicians to closely monitor you and permit you to readily see outside the chamber. You are in constant communication with the attending technician via intercom. Inside the chamber, your entire body will be totally immersed in up to 100% pure oxygen at increased pressure, which dissolves high concentrations of oxygen into the blood, plasma, tissues and every cell of the body. HBOT can deliver up to almost 22 times as much oxygen to tissues as would occur breathing normal room air. The frequency and duration of your treatment will be determined by the attending physician and varies with the condition being treated.
How HBOT Works
When a patient is immersed in and breathes pure oxygen at pressures ranging up to three times normal atmospheric pressure, oxygen tension in the lungs rises from its normal of 90 to 100 to almost 2200 millimeters of mercury pressure. Great amounts of oxygen are dissolved in all body tissues and fluids. Increased levels of oxygen remain for up to several hours after the treatment ends. During this time, white cells are better able to kill bacteria in infected tissues. Healing is accelerated as collagen and fibroblasts are laid down to create a base for new capillary growth. New blood vessel formation is accelerated. The high oxygen concentrations in nerve tissues can revive brain cells stunned by stroke or other neurological injuries.
HOW DOES IT FEEL?
The initial experience is a bit like being in an airplane. Just like with take -off, when the body is adjusting to changes in pressure, in the chamber, you’ll experience a similar pressure in the ears that will clear up relatively quickly usually within 10 minutes. For most patients this process is aided by chewing gum or frequently swallowing.
IS IT COMFORTABLE INSIDE?
We’ve designed the space for patients to recharge, relax and focus on the health and healing. Consistent with other elements of your visit, we think you’ll find the chamber a comfortable, healing environment.
IS CLEARING YOUR EARS HARD TO DO?
For most patients, clearing their ears isn’t an issue. In fact, they barely notice the pressure after a few moments of light popping. The pressure is similar to taking off in an airplane, which might mean swallowing more.
WHAT DO YO DO INSIDE THE CHAMBER?
We welcome you to enjoy your time in the chamber however you like. For many patients that means catching up on work calls or emails, listening to music, reading a book or taking a nap.
HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER A SESSION?
You may feel slightly disoriented when you first come out of the chamber, as your body re-acclimates to the lower oxygen levels in the ambient air. This is a normal part of readjusting post-treatment. We provide comfortable seating for you to relax, get your bearings and replenish your body with a water and snack. Like most of our patients, you may find yourself feeling more energized for the rest of the day and likely sleep better that night. Results will vary depending on your existing condition and treatment goals.
HOW WILL I COMMUNICATE WITH THE STAFF WHEN I’M UNDERGOING TREATMENT?
Walkie- talkies are in every chamber to communicate with the staff whenever you need.
I AM HEALTHY. HOW CAN I BENEFIT FROM THIS TREATMENT?
Even healthy patients experience benefits from using the hyperbaric oxygen therapy. HBOT may improve energy levels, sleep, focus, tissue functions, stem cell mobilization and immune health, among others.
HOW MANY SESSIONS DO I NEED?
Every patient is different, and everyone comes in with their own unique health goals. What we know is that the frequency of HBOT can play a major role in achieving many physiological benefits. For the patients with more acute or chronic conditions, this means more regular visits. This will lead to a more effective treatment and outcomes over time. Once a condition is stable a routine maintenance session may be appropriate.
WILL THIS TREATMENT CASUE A SEIZURE?
Oxygen toxicity seizures are rare but normally triggered by low blood sugar or increase of body temperature. We will try and keep the chambers as cool as possible. If you are prone to seizures, please inform the staff.
Common Side Effects
- Trauma to Ears and Sinuses due to pressure changes this effect is only temporary and resolves after treatment.
- Pulmonary Oxygen Toxicity is very rare but may require supplemental oxygen between treatments.
- Claustrophobia affects a minor percentage of the population. The condition can be managed with the multiple windows in the chamber and the communication with the walkie- talkies.
Hyperbaric treatments usually last one to one and one-half hours and are painless. The patient may experience a sensation of “fullness” in the ears, similar to driving down a mountain, flying or scuba diving. The “full” feeling occurs as the eardrums respond to the change in pressure. The HBOT technician demonstrates how to relieve this fullness before treatment.
Once a patient is in the chamber and the door is closed, the oxygen begins to circulate. This starts a gradual increase in pressure-called compression. There may be some slight warmth, but that is temporary. The HBOT technician remains by the chamber throughout the treatment to adjust the rate of compression according to patient tolerance and to coach the patient on relieving the “full” sensation in the ears. Compression generally lasts 10-15 minutes depending on how effectively one can clear his or her ears. When the interior of the chamber reaches the prescribed pressure, the sensation of “fullness” in the ears will cease and the patient is free to rest or watch TV. The temperature in the chamber remains at room temperature.
Near to the end of the treatment, the HBO technician will gradually decrease pressure that was added at the beginning. This is decompression, which generally lasts 10 to 15 minutes. During decompression, there may be a slight “popping” sensation in the ears as a result of the changing (decreasing) pressure. This “popping” is a normal adjustment, similar to what happens when driving up a mountain or ascending in an airplane. It is usually much easier to equalize ear pressure during decompression than during the compression phase.
Generally patients experience no after effects from HBOT. However, some patients report a “cracking” sensation in their ears between treatments as oxygen behind the eardrums is absorbed into the blood stream. This can be relieved in the same manner as clearing the ears during compression and decompression. Also, some patients report feeling light headed for a few minutes immediately following a treatment, but this is brief, and they are quickly able to continue with their normal daily activities such as working or driving.
As with all medical procedures and treatments, some potential side effects may result from exposure to hyperbaric oxygen. These are rare, but will be discussed in detail by the doctor before treatment.
Does insurance cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments?
A question we’re often asked is “Does insurance cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy?”
The short answer is yes, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can be covered by Medicare and commercial insurances depending on the medical condition.
Most insurances will require prior authorization to cover HBOT treatments. How much you pay out-of-pocket depends on your insurance plan. Some insurance plans require patients to pay a copay, while others require patients to pay towards a deductible or coinsurance.
What conditions are commonly approved by insurance?
At this time, Medicare and most commercial insurance companies will cover HBOT for:
- Air or Gas Embolism
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Chronic Osteomyelitis
- Compartment Syndrome/Crush Injury/Other Traumatic Ischemias*
- Compromised Skin Grafts and Flaps
- Decompression Sickness (Bends)
- Diabetic and Selected Wounds
- Exceptional Blood Loss (Anemia)
- Gas Gangrene
- Intracranial Abscess
- Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection*
- Osteoradionecrosis and Radiation Tissue Damage*
- Thermal Burns
- Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (covered by select commercial insurance companies)
*covered as adjunctive therapy
It is important to note that some of the medical conditions listed above have limitations. Some insurance plans will only approve the use of HBOT as adjunctive therapy when there has been no measurable signs of healing for at least 30 days of treatment with standard wound therapy. HBOT is expected to be used in addition to standard wound care and the patient’s wounds must be evaluated at least every 30 days to continue HBOT.
Are there additional conditions that are covered by insurance?
There are numerous studies and scientific evidence showing HBOT as an effective treatment for a range of medical conditions. Though insurance companies reserve the right to approve or deny HBOT coverage for any medical condition despite these supportive findings, there are a number of off-label conditions that are sometimes covered by commercial insurance companies.
Off-label conditions that may or may not be covered by insurance are:
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Near Drowning
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Recovery from Plastic Surgery
- Sports Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Anoxic Brain Injury
- Avascular Necrosis
- Cerebral Palsy
- Crohn’s Disease
- Circulation conditions
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
A number of commercial insurance companies—including BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS), United Healthcare, Cigna, Humana, and more—will approve HBOT for off-label conditions if they deem treatment as medically necessary.
Does insurance cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy if my condition isn’t listed?
There’s still a chance that you may receive insurance coverage for a medical condition that isn’t on the commonly approved list. Most commercial insurance companies will request medical records for determination of medical necessity.
At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, we are determined to help our patients find treatment and coverage for their medical condition. We will work with you to put together medical records, letters of support/explanation and whatever documentation is needed to help you find coverage. For patients not approved for HBOT by their insurance, we also provide discounted out-of-pocket packages.