Oxygen Treatment

What is Oxygen Treatment?

Oxygen treatment refers to breathing a high level of oxygen for a short time to correct a lack of oxygen in the tissues of the body. To raise the level of oxygen in damaged tissues, pure (100%) oxygen can be breathed with a tight fitting mask or hood, but because oxygen is poorly soluble in blood it is also necessary to use a higher pressure. Individuals receiving oxygen treatment therefore need to sit in a pressure chamber, known as a barochamber. These are rooms built of steel or concrete which accommodate between one and 12 people. Barochambers are pressurised up to twice normal atmospheric pressure. The pressure inside is increased by using compressed air, and oxygen is provided by a built-in breathing system. This is exactly the same technology used in pressurised commercial aircraft. Anyone can access oxygen treatment - a referral from a GP or consultant is not required - and oxygen treatment is administered by trained operators.

What is it used for?

People with MS find that oxygen treatment assists with the alleviation of symptoms, particularly fatigue, incontinence, pain and muscle control. Many have been using it successfully for over 25 years. Oxygen treatment has been shown to reduce deterioration with long-term use. Click here to read the research, which was carried out in the MS Therapy Centres.

It also helps people with many conditions apart from MS. We all breathe oxygen all the time, but, in times of greater need when we are ill, we can speed up recovery by increasing the dosage of oxygen by using a barochamber. There can be rapid recovery from sports injuries (see below). Some NHS hospitals refer patients with Osteoradionecrosis, and many MS Therapy Centres provide oxygen treatment for a wide range of conditions such as diabetic ulcers, non-healing wounds, cerebral palsy, autism, stroke and other neurological symptoms.

MS Therapy Centres are able to offer the service to people with other conditions at a relatively low cost where capacity is available.

In 2010 motorcyclist James Ellison endured a traumatic crash at Thruxton during a practice session. He suffered a compound fracture to his femur and spent 6 days in hospital. He knew about the hyperbaric chamber on the Isle of Man, and with the help of David Downie (technical advisor to MSNTC), his injury healed in weeks instead of months. You can read more at Heal the Riders Fundraiser, which raises money for injured riders to access the facility.

James Ellison is not the only motorcyclist to have benefited from oxygen treatment. Valentino Rossi returned to racing just 39 days after injuring his femur, and you can read about more examples here: http://hyperbariccentersofflorida.com/Sports_Injury.html

People wanting to access oxygen treatment are advised to contact their local centre directly to discuss details

What is an Oxygen Treatment session like?

Oxygen treatment sessions at MS Therapy Centres are simple, non-invasive and painless, and once they have become accustomed to the procedure most users find the sessions pleasurable and relaxing. Each session consists of three phases.

1. Pressurisation

Oxygen treatment sessions at MS Therapy Centres are simple, non-invasive and painless, and once they have become accustomed to the procedure most users find the sessions pleasurable and relaxing. Each session consists of three phases.

2. Treatment

The treatment begins when the pressure reaches the prescribed level. This is between 1.25 atmospheres absolute (ATA) and 2.0 ATA, depending on the type of condition. Users may then rest, read, listen to music or watch television.

3. Depressurisation

The operator advises users when the treatment is complete and reduces the pressure slowly, until it is the same as the ambient atmosphere. At this point, the barochamber door can be opened and the session ends.

Is it safe?

In over 30 years of operation, over 2.5 million sessions of oxygen treatment using barochambers have been undertaken without a single serious incident. This outstanding record was commended by the Department of Health following a review of the MS Therapy Centres in England and Wales in 2008, during which the Healthcare Commission (now called Care Quality Commission) recognised the MSNTC ‘Reference Manual for Oxygen Treatment’ as setting the standard for delivery of oxygen treatment.

As a result of the review, regulation of the MS Therapy Centres (under the Care Standards Act) in England was removed in 2008, followed by those in Wales during 2011. The centres in Scotland were never regulated, so there was no removal of regulation, but most Scottish centres are members of MSNTC and operate to the same standards. It is a great tribute to the thousands of people with MS, and their relatives and carers, who have been involved in this movement.

Every year the MS Therapy Centres carry out over 100,000 oxygen treatment sessions.

MS National Therapy Centres PO Box 2199, Buckingham, MK18 8AR

Tel: 01296 711699 • Email: info@msntc.org.uk

Registered charity in England & Wales no. 1031690 and in Scotland no. SC043250