Not All Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers Are Created Equal

posted by Jordan Achterhoff on Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a powerful treatment used to aid in the healing of wounds and other health conditions.

The various medical uses for HBOT have increased in recent years, as has the availability of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In addition to the medical-grade hyperbaric oxygen treatment chambers found at hospitals and medical centers, such as Spencer Hospital’s Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center, oxygen chambers designed for less intensive treatment are also available.

The two medical-grade hyperbaric oxygen chambers used at Spencer Hospital are commonly referred to as “hard chambers.” These chambers utilize 100 percent oxygen and are approved by the FDA for the treatment of various medical indications. They are designed to reach atmospheric pressures equal to 33 feet or greater below sea level.

“Soft chambers” are just that – steel-framed chambers with zipped, inflatable soft sides. These were originally developed as temporary, portable treatment units for divers and mountain climbers suffering from decompression syndrome and altitude sickness, intended for use until the patient could be transported to receive treatment in a medical-grade hard HBOT chamber.

The two components needed for effective HBOT are oxygen and pressure. A hard-sided chamber provides 100 percent oxygen at high pressure levels. Soft-sided chambers typically deliver 24 percent oxygen levels. Outside a chamber, the air we breathe is available at a 21 percent oxygen level.  

In addition to the increased oxygen levels, a hard-sided chamber can provide greater pressure. Increased air pressure enables a person’s lungs to gather more oxygen. Our blood carries this oxygen throughout our bodies, which helps fight bacteria and stimulate the release of growth factors and stem stems, promoting healing.

In Spencer Hospital’s hard-sided chambers, patients can be treated for any of the following Medicare-approved indications:

  1. Diabetic wound of the lower extremities
  2. Chronic Refractory Osteomyelitis
  3. Osteoradionecrosis as an adjunct to conventional treatment
  4. Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency
  5. Acute traumatic peripheral ischemia
  6. Progressive necrotizing infection
  7. Crush injuries and suturing of severed limbs
  8. Compromised grafts
  9. Actinomycosis
  10. Cyanide poisoning
  11. Gas embolism or gas gangrene
  12. Decompression illness and,
  13. Acute Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Additionally, commercial insurance may cover sudden sensorineural hearing loss, failing flaps, chronic ulcers, and chronic non-healing wounds, when treated in a hard-sided, medical-grade chamber.  

For more information on Spencer Hospital’s Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center, visit with your physician, contact our center at (712) 264-6198, or check out our website:

Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine

For more information, below are links to two sources that explain the two types of hyperbaric care:

Difference Between Hard and Soft Hyperbaric Chambers

Oxford Recovery Center - Hard vs. Soft Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber

  1. hyperbaric medicine
  2. wound care

About The Author

Jordan Achterhoff

Jordan Achterhoff serves as the director of Spencer Hospital's Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center. Jordan received her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree from Iowa State University with a minor in Community and Public Health. Jordan enjoys finding advanced solutions for pat ... read more