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Inventors The History of Hyperbaric Chambers and
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Extract From:
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - Frequently Asked Questions
Medical Multiplex Inc. - Hyperbaric Chambers and Medical Wound Care

"Hyperbaric chambers and hyperbaric oxygen therapy have been in use for centuries, as early as 1662. However, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used clinically since the mid 1800's. HBO was tested and developed by the U.S. Military after World War I. It has been used safely since the 1930's to help treat deep sea divers with decompression sickness. Clinical trials in the 1950's uncovered a number of beneficial mechanisms from exposure to hyperbaric oxygen chambers. These experiments were the forerunners of contemporary applications of HBO in the clinical setting. In 1967, the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) was founded to foster the exchange of data on the physiology and medicine of commercial and military diving. The Hyperbaric Oxygen Committee was developed by the UHMS in 1976 to oversee the ethical practice of hyperbaric medicine..."

Also recommended reading is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy : The First 150 Years.

Extracts From Hyperbaric Forum:

"Oxygen was discovered independently by the Swedish apothecary Karl W. Scheele, in 1772, and by the English amateur chemist Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), in August 1774. In 1783, the French physician Caillens was the first doctor reported to have used oxygen therapy as a remedy. In 1798 the Pneumatic Institution for inhalation gas therapy was founded by Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808), a physician-philosopher, in Bristol, England. He employed Humphrey Davy (1778-1829), a brilliant young scientist as superintendent of the Institute, and the engineer James Watt (1736-1819), to help manufacture the gases. The institute was an outgrowth of the new knowledge about gases (such as oxygen and nitrous oxide) and their manufacture. However, therapy was based on Beddoes' generally incorrect assumptions about disease; for example, Beddoes assumed that some diseases would naturally respond to a higher or lower oxygen concentration. As might be expected, the treatments offered no real clinical benefit, and the Institute succumbed in 1802."

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric chambers are used for a mode of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in which the patient breathes 100% oxygen at pressures greater than normal atmospheric (sea level) pressure.
Hyperbaric Chambers and Diving Medicine
Located a thousand miles inland from the sea, Milwaukee would seem an unlikely site to become a development and testing ground for innovations in deep-sea diving. However, the saga of how it earned this distinction begins with the story of a couple of exceptional Milwaukeans, Dr. Edgar End and Max Gene Nohl.

Hyperbaric Chambers and Diving Medicine - Milwaukee's Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy History
Written by Eric P. Kindwall, M.D.

"No one knew what caused the "rapture of the deep," or narcosis, experienced at depth until in 1935 Dr. Albert Behnke, a Navy submarine medical officer, proved it was nitrogen...  ...Two years later, Dr. End, then a 26-year-old intern at the Milwaukee County General Hospital, felt that helium in the breathing mixture to replace the nitrogen would obviate the problem of narcosis. Despite the fact that the U.S. Navy had tried and failed to make helium work--it produced severe decompression sickness--End developed new decompression tables of his own. He then tested them on himself at the old recompression chamber in the basement of the County Emergency Hospital at 24th and Wisconsin. The tables worked, and End was then able to interest Max Nohl in trying them out. Max was an engineer and diver who had worked his way through M.l.T. by diving in Boston harbor. He had developed his own self-contained diving suit, which had as its only gas supply two bottles strapped to his back. Preliminary tests in the chamber and then in Lake Michigan indicated that the tables indeed were functional, and they decided to try to set a world diving record."

The Role Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy In Emergency Medicine
Modern use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in clinical medicine began in 1965 with the work of Churchill-Davidson and Borema.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Asthma
The basics of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is enclosing a patient within a cylinder and pressurizing the cylinder.

©Mary Bellis

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