FAQs on the Harch HBOT Difference & How We Have the Best Patient Outcomes In The Industry

Below is a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive about how Dr. Harch’s research and exclusive proprietary protocols have revolutionized and expanded the understanding and use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) worldwide for a variety of indications, particularly in the application of HBOT for neurodegenerative and neurological disorders. Dr. Harch worked and published alongside Dr. Richard Neubauer who first started using HBOT for treating multiple sclerosis and stroke patients in the 1970s.  It was Dr. Harch who introduced Dr. Neubauer to the application of HBOT to pediatric neurological disorders, in particular cerebral palsy.  Dr. Harch subsequently expanded the application of HBOT to now over 90 neurological disorders, including genetic disorders, which has culminated in the recent publication of a randomized controlled trial of HBOT in chronic traumatic brain injury.  Dr. Harch has pioneered the application of HBOT to the vast majority of off-label conditions we see today.  This has been accomplished through the development of a disease and patient-specific dosing of HBOT which has recently taken a quantum leap with in-chamber real-time cerebral dosing of HBOT.  Dr. Harch’s revolutionary approach has dramatically altered the course of HBOT, leaving the rote protocol approach a distant memory. If you are unable to find the answer to a question, please send us an email or call us on 504 309 4948.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment which enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled.  It is used for a wide variety of treatments usually as a part of an overall medical care plan.

Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids, the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and the bone and can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked.  In this way, extra oxygen can reach all of the damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process.  The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.  It is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment.

What are the benefits of HBOT?

It has long been known that healing many areas of the body cannot take place without appropriate oxygen levels in the tissue.  Most illnesses and injuries occur, and often linger, at the cellular or tissue level.  In many cases, such as: circulatory problems; non-healing wounds; and strokes, adequate oxygen cannot reach the damaged area and the body’s natural healing ability is unable to function properly.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides this extra oxygen naturally and with minimal side effects.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves the quality of life of the patient in many areas when standard medicine is not working.  Many conditions such as stroke, cerebral palsy, head injuries, and chronic fatigue have responded favorably to HBOT.

What conditions does HBOT treat?

Hyperbaric oxygen is used to treat all conditions which benefit from increased tissue oxygen availability, as well as infections where it can be used for its antibiotic properties, either as the primary therapy, or in conjunction with other drugs.

Insurance and Medicare consider  the following conditions for HBOT to be covered for payment:

Air or Gas Embolism
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Compartment Syndrome/Crush Injury/Other Traumatic Ischemias
Decompression Sickness (Bends)
Diabetic and Selected Wounds
Exceptional Blood Loss (Anemia)
Gas Gangrene
Intracranial Abscess
Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection
Osteoradionecrosis and Radiation Tissue Damage
Osteomyelitis (Refractory)
Skin Grafts and (Compromised) Flaps
Thermal Burns

The following conditions are off-label which may or may not be covered by insurance or Medicare:

Cerebral Palsy
Lyme Disease
Multiple Sclerosis
Near Drowning
Recovery from Plastic Surgery
Sports Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injury

Are there different types of hyperbaric chambers?

There are basically two types of chambers: monoplace and multiplace.
Monoplace chambers are designed to treat a single person pressurized with 100% oxygen.

Multiplace chambers are designed to hold several people at one time and oxygen is delivered through a mask or a hood.

How should patients prepare for treatment?

Only clean cotton clothing is allowed in the chamber. No cosmetics, perfumes, hair preparations, deodorants, wigs or jewelry are allowed in the chamber. The technician needs to know if any medications, including non prescription drugs,  are being taken by the patient, and patients are advised not to take alcohol or carbonated drinks for four hours prior to treatment.  In most cases, patients should give up smoking and any other tobacco products during their treatment period, as they interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen.

How is hyperbaric oxygen therapy administered?

HBOT is administered in a private setting in state-of-the-art, monoplace chamber of clear acrylic. This allows our trained technicians to closely monitor the patient and permits the patient to readily see outside the chamber.  Patients are in constant view and communication with the attending technician via an intercom or may watch a movie, listen to music, or just rest.

Is HBOT safe?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is prescribed by a physician and performed under medical supervision. Although there are minor risks like all medical treatments, overall hyperbaric oxygen therapy is extremely safe. The risks will be discussed with you before you sign your consent form for therapy.

Are there any hyperbaric oxygen therapy side effects?

The most common side effect is barotrauma to the ears and sinuses caused by the change in pressure. To minimize this risk, patients learn techniques to promote adequate clearing of the ears during compression or tubes may be inserted in the ears.  Occasionally some patients may experience changes in their vision during their treatment period. These changes are usually minor and temporary.  A rare side effect is oxygen toxicity which is caused by administering too much oxygen.

What information does the technician need to know from the patient prior to HBOT?

·    If you have any cold or flu symptoms, fever, sinus or nasal congestion, or chest congestion.
·    If there is a possibility that you may be pregnant.
·    If there has been a change in any of your medications.
·    If you have skipped a meal prior to your HBO treatment.
·    If you are diabetic and did not take your insulin prior to your treatment.
·    If you have any concerns or anxiety.

How does hyperbaric oxygen help brain injury or stroke?

When cells in the brain die, either from trauma or lack of oxygen, blood plasma leaks out into surrounding brain tissue causing swelling and reducing blood flow.  These otherwise normal cells go dormant because they can’t function without the appropriate amount of oxygen.  HBOT dramatically increases the oxygen carried in the blood plasma, making oxygen available to heal damaged capillary walls, preventing plasma leakage and reducing swelling.  As the swelling decreases,  blood flow can be restored to the dormant tissue (neovascularization) and these cells then have the potential to function again.

How does hyperbaric oxygen help a child with cerebral palsy (CP) or traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

In CP and TBI patients, some of the injured brain tissues may be “dormant” and non-functioning. HBOT can stimulate these “dormant” tissues and return them to more normal function.  In young children, cognitive function and spasticity can be improved.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, used in conjunction with other therapies, ensures the best recovery possible for children with cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury.

How are patients referred for treatment?

Patients are accepted either by self referral or by physician referral. Patients are evaluated by our staff and treated based on their specific needs.  To schedule an evaluation, please call us at 504-309-4948