Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, is a treatment where the patient is placed in a sealed chamber and exposed to oxygen at twice the normal atmospheric pressure (two atmospheres). Oxygen is forced into the blood and other body fluids (lymph, cerebrospinal fluid, bone marrow), destroying bacteria and helping to heal injuries. When used as an adjunct to traditional veterinary techniques, HBOT has produced excellent results in a variety of applications.
How HBOT Aids Healing
These are some of the ways in which hyperbaric oxygen therapy aids in healing. Increasing oxygen to the body stimulates growth of new blood vessels in bone and soft tissue, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to reach the affected area after treatment. Swelling and inflammation are decreased, allowing blood (and therefore oxygen) to flow more freely to the area. High oxygen levels increase the ability of the white blood cells to kill bacteria in infected tissues. Anaerobic bacteria are killed directly by the high level of oxygen reaching infected tissues, even if normal circulation has been affected.
Injuries & Ailments Treated with HBOT
HBOT helps restore damaged capillaries in the lungs, accelerating recuperation.
Anemia or blood loss:
For horses that are anemic or have lost a large volume of blood because of injury or surgery, HBOT allows the remaining blood to carry a larger amount of oxygen, sustaining body functions while more blood is being produced.
HBOT increases the oxygen concentration in all body tissues including bone and bone marrow. Bone infections that have not responded to traditional antibiotic therapy often clear up after treatment in the chamber. Joint infections in foals also respond well to this therapy.
Wounds in skin and muscle tissue; reperfusion diseases:
Improved oxygen delivery through HBOT increases stimulation of capillary formation assisting in healing, especially in skin grafts, amputations, ulcerated wounds, and injuries where tissues have been crushed and circulation has been destroyed or impaired.
Connective tissue injuries:
Torn ligaments and bowed tendons heal more quickly when HBOT is included in treatment.
By enhancing oxygen delivery and minimizing inflammation and swelling, HBOT can dramatically minimize the destruction of tissue structures within the hoof.
HBOT helps the uterus return to normal size and shape following foaling, and dummy foals improve with increased blood flow to the brain. The therapy has also been reported to increase libido in aging stallions.
Horses recovering from colic surgery and other procedures benefit from HBOT to oxygenate damaged tissues, restore blood flow, and reduce swelling.
Other diseases and conditions recommended for HBOT
- Enteritus and Endotoxemia
- Severe Necrosis (such as snake or spider bites as well as toxic substances)
- Lyme Disease
- Sinus Infections
- Myositis (tying up)
- Neurologic Disease and Trauma
- Rhodococcus Penumonia in Foals
The NYEF Equisafe System
NYEF has developed a multiple firewall safety system to provide the maximum protection for both horse and personnel when the hyperbaric chamber is in use:
- All procedures and operations are supervised, inspected and reviewed by a trained and certified Hyperbaric Chamber Safety Inspector.
- All PVHO 99 safety and maintenance rules, applicable to chambers for human use, are diligently observed.
- Daily, weekly, monthly and annual inspections of the chamber are scrupulously implemented.
- The chamber itself is properly vented and grounded.
- Before entering the chamber, each horse is wetted down to reduce static and then individually grounded.
- All halters, leads and special boots (in case of shoed horses) are made of spun cotton and brass snaps to reduce any chance of sparks.
- NYEF uses only the two horse chamber and the buddy system, which both reduces the horse’s anxiety level and also makes it impossible for any horse to rear up in the chamber (the top of the horse’s head being only inches from the chamber ceiling).
- The chamber is located in a facility with three hour rated fire walls.
If necessary, horses are properly sedated before entering the chamber.
- Video feeds and windows allow our trained operators to visually observe any horse in the chamber at all times.