Science is looking at everything, in every circumstance, that’s for sure. Previously, hyperbaric chambers were for the treatment of someone who rose from the depths of the water too fast, but “they” have been investigating, and the benefits are for more than just that. They’re not guaranteed, but the number of successes has shown that it wasn’t simply a fluke.
The procedure today is used to treat a multitude of issues like infection, air bubbles in the bloodstream and some neurological issues like strokes or head trauma.
Josh Fohner falls into the latter category. The 28-year-old Springdale native was seriously injured in a near-fatal cycling accident in 2016 and suffered traumatic brain injuries. Since November, he has undergone hyperbaric oxygen treatments at the Immanuel Clinic in Springdale five days a week for one-hour sessions.
“When you’re in there, you are getting roughly 20 times as much oxygen in the entire body as you do breathing regular air,” said Dr. Jeff Baker, who owns the Immanuel Clinic.
The oxygen saturates the plasma, which is the clear part of the blood. Normally red blood cells have 99 percent saturation. The hyperbaric chamber triples the amount of oxygen in red blood cells, which is then carried through the body and helps repair damaged tissue, he said.
“That tissue is in limbo,” Baker said. “It’s not dead yet. It’s damaged enough that with some rehab, the body could heal it. But it needs oxygen, particularly in the brain. Oxygen is critical for healing. So if you can get more oxygen into that tissue, you have a chance for the brain to start healing.”