Oxygen Treatment

Anyone wishing to access oxygen treatment should be prepared to commit to an initial intensive course of treatment, usually one treatment per day, five days a week, for three weeks.  If this is not possible (either due to personal circumstances or centre capacity), the closer together the first 15-20 sessions can be attended, the greater the potential effectiveness of the treatment. Centres will always try to work with users to implement a workable schedule but, given the nature of our centres and the fact that many operators are volunteers, this may not always be possible.

What is Oxygen Treatment?

The oxygen in the air we breathe is constantly treating the day to day damage we sustain - repairing and renewing our cells. When tissues are damaged the capillaries they contain are also damaged. This reduces the flow of blood that transports oxygen, which may limit or even prevent recovery.

Being a gas, the concentration of oxygen in blood is actually determined by the air pressure surrounding us. To significantly increase the oxygen concentration in blood to improve healing a higher dose is needed - 100% oxygen delivered by a mask and the use of a sealed room, known as a “barochamber” to allow an increase in pressure.

How does it help people with MS?

The disease that results in the scarring – the sclerosis – in multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with damage to blood vessels in the nervous system. This is not blockage but leakage which leads to inflammation and hypoxia - which simply means lack of oxygen. A high level of oxygen reduces the hypoxia and the latest research has shown that it down regulates the genes that programme inflammation.1 In other words oxygen induces remission. Healing is impossible without sufficient oxygen being present.2

Does everyone benefit?

The sclerosis, that is scarring is healing just as a scar heals a cut in the skin. The objective of oxygen treatment is to help tissues heal and be able to function before the damage leads to scarring. Damage in MS patients occurs over time so the latest areas affected will be the most likely to recover. Trials have shown that patients may experience reduced levels of fatigue, improvements in balance and walking and also bladder function.3,4

Is it safe?

Being in a pressure chamber is actually safer than being outside, e.g. it is not possible to be hit by a bus, nor will patients have either a heart attack or a stroke breathing a high level of oxygen. With over 3 million sessions completed without a serious incident MS Therapy Centres were deregulated by an Act of Parliament in 2008. Minor problems – ear and sinus discomfort similar to that encountered in flying may occur, but, in contrast to aircraft, they can be dealt with by adjusting the pressure. 

References

  1. Eltzschig HK, Carmeliet P. Hypoxia and inflammation. N Engl J Med 2011;364:656-65.
  2. Semenza GL. Oxygen sensing homeostasis and disease. N Engl J Med 2011;365:537-47.
  3. Fisher BH, Marks M, Reich T. Hyperbaric-oxygen treatment of multiple sclerosis. A randomised placebo controlled trial. N Engl J Med 1983;308:180-86.
  4. Perrins DJD, James PB. Long-term hyperbaric oxygenation retards progression in multiple sclerosis patients. IJNN 2005;2:45-48.
Barochamber

Find your nearest
MS Therapy Centre

Enter a post code prefix to find the nearest centre.

Support MSNTC

By supporting MSNTC with donations and fundraising, you’re helping over 50 MS therapy centres across the UK provide support, counselling and MS therapies to sufferers.

Support Us

Registered charity in England & Wales no.1031690 and in Scotland no.SC043250. Company no.02808298