How to Choose the Best Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber

Hyperbaric chambers are used to treat a variety of conditions by delivering oxygen at greater than normal atmospheric pressures. Also known as mild chambers, home chambers, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), they are suitable for clinical settings, wellness centers, and in-home use. 

Features to consider when choosing a hyperbaric chamber

Type of therapy: Soft-side (mHBOT) or hard-side (HBOT)?

Believe it or not, choosing the structural design of a hyperbaric chamber goes far beyond simply deciding on a design preference such as soft or hard-side - the difference between soft and hard-side hyperbaric chambers lies in the level of oxygen capable of being absorbed into the bloodstream of the chamber user, a factor based on increase in air pressure.

In a hyperbaric chamber, the air pressure is increased beyond the air pressure you and I experience in day-to-day life. This change is measured using something called atmosphere absolute

When referring to this unit of pressure measurement, we abbreviate it starting at 1.0 ATA, or one atmosphere absolute

So, for example, if sea level is 1.0 ATA, the air inside a soft-side mHBOT chamber is typically somewhere around 1.3 - 1.5 ATA.

Soft-side hyperbaric chambers are also known as mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or mHBOT. As seen above, soft-side hyperbaric chambers typically reach a level of atmospheric pressure slightly higher than what’s found at sea level. 

In a hard-side hyperbaric chamber, pressure can increase up to 6.0 ATA. This dramatic increase above the ATA found in everyday air pressure is what drives the concentrated, breathable oxygen molecules in a hyperbaric chamber to rapidly dissolve into the user’s bloodstream.

Chamber design: horizontal or vertical?

Unlike the hard-side or soft-side chamber discussion, the upright or prone design of a chamber is completely based on user preference!

For some individuals with mild to severe claustrophobia, the thought of laying down in an enclosed hyperbaric chamber is a bit more than they can handle. These people may opt for a vertical chamber, which would allow them to sit upright and play a more active role in the hyperbaric experience. 

In upright chambers, users may place a small chair into the chamber, and even bring a small electronic device inside to keep them mentally occupied as treatment occurs.  

Oxygen level: concentrator or no concentrator?

Oxygen concentrators are additional hyperbaric chamber features, capable of being purchased in conjunction with both mHBOT or HBOT chambers. They are highly encouraged, and serve to multiply the benefits of the hyperbaric experience!

Ambient air, the air you and I breathe on a daily basis, is roughly 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen. By supplementing the ambient air in a hyperbaric chamber with highly concentrated oxygen, users experience the highest possible level of oxygen absorption into the bloodstream.

Oxygen absorption is still possible with ambient air, thanks to the pressure increase occurring inside an active hyperbaric chamber; however, the rate of absorption dramatically increases when an oxygen concentrator is used. 

Chamber size: circumference, diameter, and length

Finally, when comparing and contrasting information about hyperbaric chambers, don't forget to take into consideration the chamber's circumference (distance around), diameter (distance across), and length.

For example, two full size adults wouldn't fit inside most hyperbaric chambers, nor would an NFL player fit comfortably inside a chamber like NewTowne's Home Hyperbaric Chamber (with its inflated diameter of 27"). 

If you or a loved one are looking for a hyperbaric chamber which can accommodate dual users or simply provide ample space for an individual with greater body mass, be sure to carefully examine the chamber measurements prior to purchase. 

Standout brands of hyperbaric chambers

Summit to Sea Shallow Dive - Exceptionally affordable (one of the most economically priced chambers available), portable, and still comparable with other higher-cost chambers, the Summit to Sea Shallow Dive is the ideal choice for users looking for an economically priced, quality hyperbaric chamber. Highly portable and surprisingly lightweight, the chamber’s translucent body allows filtration of exterior light, so users won’t have the sensation of being trapped within a small space. 

NewTowne's Portable Home Chamber - Created with care and honesty, NewTowne’s Home Hyperbaric Chamber is specifically designed to be fully operable by a single individual - no outside assistance necessary. The chamber’s elegant zippering system is both sturdy and simple to understand, and users can enter from either the top or from the side. With this home chamber, what you see is what you get: the three-zippered chamber, the heavy-duty steel frame and soft, supportive chamber mattress come included, keeping product add-ons to a minimum and making set-up hassle-free.

NewTowne's Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber - Perfect for in-home use yet capable of sustaining ongoing treatment in a clinic setting, the Mild Hyperbaric Chamber from NewTowne combines all the best elements of a mild hyperbaric chamber: quick inflation, quiet airflow, dual zippering (one outside, one inside), and a unique zero-leak silicon seal entry/exit flap. Available in three diameters and capable of accomodating most patient sizes, this unit is provides excellent treatment at an outstanding price. 

What else should I know about choosing a hyperbaric chamber?

It’s highly recommended that any individual considering purchasing a hyperbaric chamber have a family doctor they can consult and share their experience with, since every individual's personal medical professional knows their unique medical journey. In this way, their doctor will be able to best advise them over the course of hyperbaric treatment.

Who uses hyperbaric chambers?

Any person young or old, or any level of health, can benefit from using a hyperbaric chamber.

Because the nature of hyperbaric therapy is the oxygen saturation of the bloodstream and promoting cellular regeneration, wound healing, and decrease in inflammation, beneficiaries of HBOT are about as varied as types of HBOT chambers themselves! 

Any persons living with nonhealing wounds (burns, bed sores, lesions, gangrene), traumatic brain injury (concussions, cerebral palsy, Locked-In Syndrome), sports injuries (whiplash, torn ACL/PCL), radiation damage, decompression sickness, stroke, or skin grafts can directly benefit from hyperbaric therapy. 

How would a hyperbaric chamber benefit me or my loved one?

Hyperbaric therapy can benefit individuals by increasing oxygen to previously under-oxygenated places of the body and brain. 

When muscles and brain tissue are either under-oxygenated or cut off from a steady supply of oxygen, these places either become low-performing areas of the body, or they may die off completely. By hyper-oxygenating the body and blood, hyperbaric therapy prevents cell death, and can even cause tissue to regrow! 

Any person young or old is capable of benefitting from an increase in oxygen, making hyperbaric oxygen therapy a very broadly beneficial form of treatment. 

Does Medicare typically cover hyperbaric chambers? 

In short, yes! Medicare Part B covers the total cost of doctor-prescribed hyperbaric therapy. Under Original Medicare, patients pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount.

Wondering which ailments qualify for coverage? According to Medicare.gov, if you have any one of these listed conditions, you are eligible for total coverage for your hyperbaric therapy.

Does private insurance typically cover hyperbaric chambers?

Because every insurance policy is different, it is hard to say decisively if private insurance will cover all, or part, of any hyperbaric treatment. In some instances, private insurance has partially covered individuals undergoing HBOT in a clinical setting with a doctor’s prescription, but cases vary widely. 

Inquire into your insurance policy to learn more about coverage options for HBOT.

Summary

Choosing the right hyperbaric chamber for you is a process which takes time, research, and even a helping hand! Rehabmart is committed to making your journey into HBOT as simple and empowering as possible. For this reason, we've compiled and created a series of articles aimed at demystifying hyperbarics, along with extensive customer feedback.

 

You can learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy at our Rehabmart Hyperbaric Knowledge Base, and browse the hyperbaric product page at Rehabmart.com!

Want to learn even more? Find dozens of videos featuring products and caregiver tips like these at Rehabmart’s YouTube channel!

Mike Price, OT, CTO Rehabmart.com

Author:

Mike Price, OT, CTO Rehabmart.com

Co-Founder of Rehabmart and an Occupational Therapist since 1993. Mike has spent his professional career working in multiple areas of Occupational Therapy, including pediatrics, geriatrics, hand therapy, ergonomics and inpatient / outpatient rehabilitation. Mike enjoys writing articles that help people solve complex therapeutic problems and make better product choices.

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