Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Approved?

Written by Sergio Azzolino on 08 February, 2015 in

Hyperbaric Oxygen is an accepted therapeutic practice for the treatment of numerous diseases, physical injuries and dysfunctions. The technology was originally developed by the diving industry and advanced by the military for dealing with the bends or decompression sickness.

The Question : Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Approved?

HBOT or Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (oxygen under pressure) is an FDA Approved medical treatment for several conditions, but the word “Approved,” when referring to the use and application of Hyperbaric Oxygen does not account for the scientific rationale, the historical research, the clinical evidence or the established effectiveness of HBOT. This term simply implies that it is covered, or reimbursed by Public or Private Health Insurance providers. The actual definition of “Approved” Hyperbaric Oxygen would imply that “It is approved for payment by the insurance provider”.

For example, the largest professional Hyperbaric Association in the world, the Japanese Society of Hyperbaric Medicine, “Approves” the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen in Acute Spinal Cord Injury; the Japanese Government considers Hyperbaric Oxygen a necessary standard-of-practice and its use is “Approved” for coverage under the national Japanese Health care.

Since the 1970s, Russia, China and other European and Asian countries have “Approved” the application of Hyperbaric Oxygen in respiratory complications at birth to Cerebral Palsy. In fact, in these countries, full surgical procedures are conducted in hyperbaric chambers the size of an operating room; when there are suspected respiratory complications at birth, the delivery is conducted in a hyperbaric chamber; this practice is to prevent the child spending a life with severe disabilities.

Regardless of the decades of established practice and statistically high efficacy in these countries, not one of these applications are currently “Approved” for payment under any Public or Private Health Insurance program in North America.

Even for the approved conditions hyperbaric oxygen is under-utilized. It alone can prevent 80% of amputations for diabetic wounds, for which it is approved to treat. A city the size of San Francisco could accommodate at least 3 large hyperbaric facilities with large multiplace chambers if HBOT were being properly utilized just for this one indication.

There is actually more science behind some of the “off-label” or non-approved conditions than there is for the approved conditions which include.

  • Cerebral Vascular Disease
  • Stroke
  • Brain Injury
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Near Drowning
  • Autism
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Nerve Damage
  • Migraine
  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Immune System Building
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Sports Injuries
  • Lyme Disease
  • Epilepsy

Helpful links

  1. A Phase I Study of Low-Pressure Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Blast-Induced Post-Concussion Syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  2. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for traumatic brain injury
  3. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Improve Post Concussion Syndrome Years after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury – Randomized Prospective Trial