When Novak Djokovic called a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to be a “spaceship”’ and a piece of “interesting technology”, you ought to have understood the essence. However, a little elaboration won’t do any harm.
A hyperbaric chamber for athletes has been in use for years. A glass chamber that allows a person to slip in and breathe pure, unadulterated oxygen to increase the supply to the brain. As such, when the inhaled oxygen circulates the body and reaches any wounded or damaged part, it instantly rushes the healing chemicals. As new cells are being created, the repair process receives a boost.
Once reserved solely for treating decompression sickness, Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has made its way to emerge as an alternate form of treatment for a string of neurological and physiological disorders. Take autism for instance, where the damaged brain tissues are targeted for regeneration using HBOT.
More so, in some hospitals, recent severe cases of COVID-19 also witnessed the extensive use of HBOT to offer relief to patients having problems in breathing.
Talking about athletes, many big names across a wide range of sports have adopted HBOT at some point in their career, to treat several issues that include:
- Faster recovery from training
- Treating concussions
- Healing wounds received at the field
- For added stamina and endurance
With time, HBOT is increasingly becoming popular among athletes around the world as a way of life, and a part of their fitness regimen.
Here’s a take on hyperbaric chambers as used by athletes, and how it makes a difference.
A Faster Way to Regain Energy
A hyperbaric chamber for athletes is popularly recommended to help restore energy faster. Long tiring match schedules and extensive fitness training leads to tiredness, which brings down the performance level of an athlete.
HBOT helps restore energy by working to release the lactic acid accumulated across muscle groups. A higher level of pure oxygen intake works faster to recover a tired body, like after a rigorous workout or sprint.
A regular session of an hour-long HBOT raises the level of hemoglobin and blood plasma. As the red blood cells become more enhanced, both tissues and cells become rich in oxygen absorption to stimulate and recover faster. In other words, a wound or a cut that might have taken a week to turn normal can recover under three days flat.
So, it becomes all the way advantageous for an athlete to resume his training in no time.
In the case of skeletal muscle injuries, HBOT also helps in the reduction of early hindlimb volume, vascular permeability, and extracellular fluid accumulation. Research findings show how multiple sessions of HBOT led to the prevention of hypoxia-induced inflammation during the acute phase, following the injury.
The Efficacy of HBOT for Concussions and Brain Injuries
It’s not very uncommon for athletes to experience concussions. Bill Romanowski in his entire career must have had twenty concussions at least, if not more. His retirement decision came soon after, as he complained of sudden memory loss and slurred speech. Following his retirement, the athlete took to HBOT which significantly improved his condition.
A Hyperbaric chamber for athletes has proved to be beneficial in treating cases of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and concussions. The intake of pure oxygen (>=1.2 ATA) works as a natural healer to significantly bring down the fatigue level that’s commonly reported in the case of a TBI.
The First-Hand Treatment for Compartment Syndrome
Compartment Syndrome refers to a special condition, where the internal pressure of the body increases at places (compartment pressure) to lower the blood supply across the surrounding tissue (capillary perfusion pressure).
Reportedly, marathon runners, joggers, and high jumpers commonly face this particular ailment. Although rare, compartment syndrome can be extremely painful.
In some cases of compartment syndrome, the extent to which an injury can cause damage often remains eluded, even after surgery.
As such, HBOT can be beneficial, especially at the impending stage, where primary symptoms like weakness or constant pain are noted. This is a crucial juncture where surgery might not be recommended owing to patient instability or a further rise in compartment pressure. Thus, a hyperbaric chamber for athletes comes in handy. Also, it plays a significant role to lower morbidity after the patient has undergone fasciotomy.
Enhancing Mental Stamina
When out in the field, it takes more than just physical endurance to excel. Alongside physical strength, having a clear and focussed mind is equally important. A hyperbaric chamber for athletes has been found to significantly help in cases of brain fog.
Regular sessions of HBOT help the brain to absorb a greater amount of oxygen to impact thinking and decision-making abilities.
As an obvious consequence, athletes post HBOT sessions were found to be more focussed on their game, and at the peak of their performance.
The ideas of a hyperbaric chamber for athletes have not only proved to be beneficial or gain active physical strength but also mental agility. HBOT has also made it possible for athletes to overcome injuries faster, skip long hours of medication, and rest. It has also helped many to reduce the chances of inflammation, like nothing else.