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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Healing Under Pressure

Apr 06, 2011 02:18AM ● By Lee Walker

Peter Holyk, MD of Contemporary Health Innovations in Sebastian, has just one regret, that he can’t find even more time to spend in his hyperbaric oxygen chamber. The chamber allows an individual to experience the benefits of pure oxygen delivered at increased atmospheric pressure. "There is no other therapy for the body that is so effortless, and yet as effective as hyperbaric oxygen therapy," says Holyk, a medical doctor practicing integrative medicine.

Even before Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen—the naturally occurring active element in the atmosphere—in the late 1700s, physicians and scientists were intrigued by the possibility of using increased atmospheric pressure as a medical therapy. As early as 1662, Nathaniel Henshaw, a British clergyman, had built the first sealed chamber to treat ailments such as inflammation, scurvy and arthritis. Later, the Pneumatic Institution for Gas Therapy, established by British physician Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808), spawned the creation of institutes for compression therapy throughout Europe; by 1860, pneumatic spas had reached North America.

Supplemental use of oxygen increased with its availability. By the 1930s, hyperbaric medicine was used for diving and decompression sickness. During the 1960s, medical journals reported the benefits of pressurized hyperoxygenation (hyperbaric oxygen, or HBO) for carbon monoxide poisoning. This sparked an interest within the medical community that led to the building of hyperbaric units at such prestigious medical institutions as Duke University School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston (Harvard Medical School’s pediatric teaching hospital) and others.

Subsequently, benefits were observed when HBO was applied to skin graft acceptance, acute thermal burns, radiation ulcers and foot wounds from diabetes. In 1989, the American Board of Medical Specialists approved a related certification of added competency in Undersea Medicine, and in 1991 the National Board of Hyperbaric Medicine Technology issued its first certification to hyperbaric technicians.

Authors Dr. Richard A. Neubauer and Dr. Morton Walker report in their book, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: "For years, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) was used only in the treatment of decompression sickness. However, it is becoming more common in general practice as doctors become acquainted with its application." Approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association, HBOT physically dissolves extra oxygen into the blood plasma to enhance tissue levels of the life-giving element.

According to Dr. David Perlmutter, a board-certified neurologist, this oxygenation produces several important long-term therapeutic benefits: enhanced growth of new blood vessels; increased ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria and remove toxins; increased growth of fibroblasts (cells involved in wound healing); and enhanced metabolic activity of previously marginally functioning cells, including brain neurons.

Perlmutter is an internationally recognized leader in the use of hyperbaric treatment of neurological disorders, such as autism, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, as well as stroke. He has used HBOT for 20 years at the Perlmutter Hyperbaric Center in Naples, Florida, which has four Sechrist Model 3200 hyperbaric chambers.

"These are the most technologically advanced monoplace, or single-person, chambers available," advises Perlmutter. "Treatments typically last one to two hours, and patients can relax, watch television or even nap while they are monitored by trained technicians, with whom they can communicate through an intercom system."

Hyperbaric oxygenation’s healing ways continue to impress practitioners who utilize its benefits. "HBOT enhances the functions of all cells, whether they are blood cells, blood vessels, or connective tissues. It also enhances the function of nerve cells which are not frequently benefited by other therapies," explains Holyk. "It is a great adjunct to any kind of surgery, all kinds of trauma, and significantly reduces healing time."

It is even helpful for weekend warriors that may be doing a house project or playing volleyball for the first time in 10 years and hurt themselves." Holyk notes that HBOT is a great approach for petrochemical toxicity, such as exposure to pesticides, and even Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). For example, if you react to perfume, HBOT can help you overcome that type of attack.

Oxygen is great for the brain. When you keep the brain healthy the rest of the body will follow. HBOT can help the professional who wants to stay sharp, the athlete who wants to enhance performance, as well as anyone who wants to stay feeling and looking young.

Dr. Holyk was trained by Dr. Richard Newbauer, a pioneer of HBOT, in 2002 and has been offering the service in his clinic ever since. Holyk stresses the importance of being evaluated as a candidate for HBOT. If HBOT isn’t the best fit for the client there are other oxygen therapy choices. "One of the reasons we offer a number a different oxygen therapies is for those who have contraindications. For example, a person with a chronic lung condition may have increased side effects or those who have difficulty clearing their ears in an elevator may be a better fit for another type of oxygen therapy," explains Holyk. "People can benefit from HBOT but they need to be evaluated from the proper perspective."

Connect with Dr. Peter Holyk at 772-388-5554. Contemporary Health Innovations is located at 600 Schumann Drive in Sebastian, FL.

For more information and to find a nearby center, visit the International Hyperbarics Association at and call 877-442-8721.

Connect with Dr. David Perlmutter at or 239-649-7400. The Perlmutter Health Center is located in Naples, FL.