Injuries are common among all types of athletes. Without proper attention, these injuries can affect an athlete’s performance as well as their quality of life. Hyperbaric therapy has proven effective therapy for managing injuries among athletes.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is one of the most effective wound-healing accelerators and anti-inflammatory treatments. It has the ability to help athletes recover in the shortest time possible and stay healthy once recovered.
Our body’s tissues need oxygen to function. However, when the body’s tissues are injured, they may require more oxygen than normal to heal. Hyperbaric therapy involves the supply of 100% oxygen to the body, administered in a specialized environment known as the hyperbaric chamber.
Facts About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy was first used in the U.S in the 1940s. It was used to treat deep-sea divers with decompression sickness. Today, it is used to treat a wide range of health problems including diabetic foot ulcers and carbon monoxide poisoning. It is imperative to beware that some claims of its treatment capabilities are unproven.
For instance, HBOT devices do not cure Lyme diseases, cancer, or autism. The U.S food and drug administration recommends individuals first consult their health care providers before using an HBOT device.
If your healthcare provider does recommend HBOT, you are advised to go to a facility that is undersea and hyperbaric medical society accredited.
Some of the conditions approved for HBOT treatment include:
- Cyanide poisoning
- Gas gangrene
- Crush injuries
- Decompression sickness
- Delayed radiation therapy
HBOT is not safe or effective in the treatment of conditions such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS, depression, and stroke. The number of prescribed treatment therapy sessions will depend on the severity of the condition
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Athletes
An HBOT device is placed in an oxygen-regulated chamber for one or more athletes. The athlete is placed in the chamber, which is slowly pressurized with 100% oxygen. They sit and relax in the room while taking deep breaths. Depending on the treatment reasons, sessions can last 40 to 300 minutes.
There are two types of hyperbaric chambers— monoplace and multiplace chambers. Monoplace chamber is built for one person. It is designed with a long plastic tube resembling an MRI machine. Multiplace chamber is meant to fit two or more people at once. The treatment is similar to monoplace, but the athletes are required to breathe pure oxygen through hoods or masks.
Benefits of HBOT to Athletes
Like any other therapy used in the treatment of different health-related issues, there are a myriad of hyperbaric oxygen therapy benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- Reperfusion injury prevention- Reperfusion injury is the condition caused by severe damage to the tissues. It deprives them of oxygen and causes the blood to return to the tissues. The interruption of blood flow leads to the release of harmful radicals.
- HBOT strengthens the immune system- HBOT works by blocking the action of harmful bacteria. It increases the concentration of oxygen in the tissues and disables the toxins of certain bacteria.
- Improves healing by bringing oxygen-rich plasma to the affected tissues- Technically, the main cause of death of a tissue is the deprivation of oxygen. HBOT helps wound healing by introducing oxygen-rich plasma to the affected tissues. It aims to break the cycle of swelling, which leads to oxygen starvation, and eventually death of the tissue.
What Athletes Need to Know Before Starting Therapy?
Here are some of the few facts you should put into consideration before entering a hyperbaric oxygen chamber:
- Treatment is delayed if the athlete has a cold or other health issues- Fever, high blood pressure, frequent loose stool, and flu-like symptoms can delay your hyperbaric therapy treatment. Note that an athlete can suffer an inner ear injury if they have a cold during treatment. It affects their ability to clear their ears.
- Expect more than one treatment session- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions last two hours or more- depending on the condition. The athlete should expect a prescription of thirty or more treatment sessions before the therapy is complete. Sessions are reduced depending on how quickly your condition improves.
- Some medications should be avoided- It is imperative to note that there are some medications that cannot be taken during the treatment. They include topical ointment used for wounds, drugs used to prevent alcohol intake, and some chemotherapy prescriptions.
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While HBOT is quite effective in treating a wide range of complications, it is not meant for everyone. Individuals with a cold or fever, recent injury or surgery, and lung disease should not undergo HBOT.
Athletes encounter mild side effects such as fatigue, claustrophobia, and headaches after a session. It is advisable to have someone drive you home after HBOT. Check beforehand to find out whether your insurance company covers the costs of treatment. Several sessions are needed.
100% supply of oxygen is great for your health, but too much of it is harmful. A technician is allowed in the pressured chamber with the athlete to monitor them and help regulate the pressure to healthy levels.
Note that your ears may feel plugged when the pressure is raised. Chewing gum or swallowing will pop them back to normal.
Verdict: Is Hyperbaric Therapy Good for Athletes?
Yes, HBOT is great for athletes! The therapy helps maximize their performance, prevent injuries, and stay in optimal condition. Before starting HBOT, it is advisable to consult a medical professional to help you get the ideal treatment. Their guidance will direct you to hyperbaric therapy for your needs.