The word ‘hyperbaric’ literally means ‘high pressure’. The concept of hyperbaric medicine has been in existence since as early as 1662, when the first pressurised room used to treat health problems was built by an English physician, Nathaniel Henshaw.
Clinical use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy started in the mid 1800s, particularly in France where a Dr. Junod ascribed the wonderful recovery of his patients to the application of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the Bulletin of the Academy of Medicine.
In 1878 Paul Bert, a French physiologist, discovered the link between decompression sickness and nitrogen bubbles. He also discovered that the pain from decompression sickness could be reversed with recompression in a hyperbaric chamber.
Dr. John S. Haldane studied the effects of compressed oxygen during his tenure at the University of Dundee in the early 1900s. He developed the first diving tables for the Royal Navy, earning him the title “Father of Oxygen Therapy”. By the early 1930s, the military had developed and tested Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to treat deep sea divers with decompression sickness (a condition which is colloquially referred to as ‘the bends’).
In the last three decades, great strides in hyperbaric oxygen research have raised the value of this unique therapy. Since the latter part of the twentieth century, hyperbaric medicine has gained most of its recognition for the treatment of certain mainstream medical conditions. The therapy is often used to treat decompression sickness and air embolisms in deep sea divers. In recognition of the many benefits, HBOT now forms an important part of primary treatment for a range of conditions.
There are now more than 23,000 articles on the effects of HBOT in medical literature. Studies have expanded the list of medical conditions for which treatment with compressed oxygen can be beneficial and research is still ongoing.
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