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Why Are Hyperbaric Chambers So Popular With Athletes?

Why Are Hyperbaric Chambers So Popular With Athletes?

Have you heard of these chambers before? Sure you have! They are somewhat infamous for being associated with Michael Jackson and his recovery from the Pepsi fire,  but more recently they have been utilized by professional athletes.

Terrell Owens even had one of these pricey chambers installed in his house!

So what gives? What’s so great about an oxygen chamber?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the medical use of oxygen at a level higher than atmospheric pressure. So, the concentration of oxygen increases the oxygenation throughout the body and is thought to speed up healing time and reducing muscle fatigue.

HBOT is used in treating acute traumatic ankle/foot fractures and sprains to improve tissue oxygenation to prevent further tissue damage. Sounds like it would be perfect for football players, right?

Well, in recent years, professional and college teams have started using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat sports injuries ranging from muscle contusions, ankle sprains/fractures, and delayed-onset muscle soreness.

When used clinically, HBOT is considered an adjunctive therapy as soon as possible after injury diagnosis.  Physical therapy is also imperative to restore range of motion and ankle strength lost while being casted/in a protective splint.  With these two therapies combined, athletes are thought to be back on their feet quicker than without the HBOT.

Lexington Podiatry doesn’t prescribe the use of hyperbaric chambers as the norm because insurance does not currently pay for the procedure while research is in the works for more evidence of results. Stay tuned!

Michael Glindmeyer, PT, DPT, ATC
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Athletic Trainer Certified

Dr. Glindmeyer is a regular contributor to Lexington Podiatry’s blog and an expert in the physical therapy field.



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