When receiving this therapy, patients sit or lie comfortably inside a hyperbaric chamber, which resembles a giant, clear plastic tube, lying on its side.
Chambers range in size from single-patient units to ones that can treat eight or more patients at one time. As part of the new Hyperbaric Medicine Program at Saint Francis, there are two single-patient chambers on the North Campus.
In the chamber, patients breathe 100% pure oxygen while the air pressure is raised to two to three times higher than normal. This allows your lungs to gather up more oxygen than is possible at normal air pressure. The blood can then deliver higher levels of oxygen to body tissue.
A typical session lasts for two hours. During this time, patients may watch a movie or television, listen to the radio, or even sleep. A medical professional monitors each patient throughout the session.
The number of treatments required ranges from one to sixty — delivered over several weeks — and depends on the patient’s medical condition and response to treatment. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is very safe and causes little or no discomfort for most patients.