The History of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

HBOT is not new.

In fact, the concept of Hyperbaric Medicine has been around since the 1800’s. Since then, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used around the world to treat a wide variety of medical conditions successfully.

In 1937 hyperbaric oxygen treatments were first used for decompression sickness but it was not until 1956 that interest in hyperbaric medicine heated up. In Amsterdam that year, Dr. I Boerema reported that hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) was a therapeutic aid in cardiopulmonary surgery. Shortly after his colleague’s discovery, W.H. Brummelkamp, published a discovery of his own: hyperbaric therapy inhibited anaerobic infections.

International interest rekindled due to the publishing of reports in 1962 detailing the enormous benefits of HBOT in the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning. These discoveries and more pushed hyperbaric medicine into the modern era. Installations of hyperbaric units quickly began at some of the most revered and prestigious medical centers in the United States. A few of these early adopters were Harvard Children’s Hospital, New York Sinai Hospital, Duke University, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.

Fast-forward to modern HBOT

The advent of advanced imaging technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) have provided researchers unprecedented insights into the actions and mechanisms of hyperbaric oxygenation and its effect on tissue. It’s no coincidence that the most significant, documented advancements in Hyperbaric Medicine have emerged recently to a great part due to pre- and post- hyperbaric therapy evaluation using these high-tech tools.

As hyperbaric research continues, scientists are finding that neurological conditions, stroke and brain injuries, all previously considered to have a poor prognosis, respond well to HBOT.

Successful treatment with hyperbaric for conditions as diverse as autism, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation toxicity in cancer patients have growing numbers of researchers, physicians, patients and their families believing in the power and efficacy of HBOT.