Hyperbaric oxygen treatment and Michael Crichton

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment and Michael Crichton-- the two leading keywords by which people find their way to this blog. Hardly a day passes without one or the other or both listed as "referral" keywords.

Michael Crichton

 Michael Crichton  had long been one of my favorite authors--some have termed him the founder or king of the science techno-thrillers-- and so I when I find something interesting on him I usually link to it from this blog. (Sadly, he died in 2008.)  

There was quite a flurry of pieces about him in the past few months, in part because his earliest thrillers, pubished under the name John Lange, had been re-published. Partly also because of the new sequel to JURASSIC PARK, as well as a remake of WESTWORLD.

 Here's the link to an old interview with him, click to go to that page in this blog.  That will lead to some of the other Crichton articles.

But the two Michael Crichton-related posts that draw the most relate to articles on the Michael Crichton conspiracy.  Why those draw highest, over more informative interviews with him, I have no idea. 

 Hyperbaric oxygen therapy -- HBOT

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy plays a key role in the plot-line of my science techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, so I've been posting here links to articles from my older research, as well as newer peices that I run upon.

 This week (January 6, 2015) the Wall Street Journal ran quite a long article, "Patients take pure oxygen in off-label treatments" link. I had not known that some parents of children with autism have been using HBOT as an off-label treatment.

HBOT is also being used for FDA-approved uses including nonhealing wounds and, of course, the orignal use--treating divers with decompression problems.

Not in this article, but I have heard of other studies using high pressure oxygen therapy in fields including regenerative medicine, rejuvenating aging bodies and body parts, and other anti-aging therapies

But HBOT is being used experimentally with, in addition to treating autism, sports injuries, strokes, and various athletic injuries.  

Also, according to that WSJ article, the Defense Department has also studied the use of HBOT to treat post-concussion symptoms. DOD found no significant difference between the test group (who did receive HBO), and a control group, the members of which did not actually receive pure oxygen but were told they did.

However, seems to me that by telling the control group that little fib, the researchers were casting a shadow over the whole test. Why? I don't have time or space to get into it here, but a number of recent studies have explored the placebo and "nocebo" effect. Those studies (still underway) suggest that simply by telling the control people they were getting the treatment they may have unconsciously improved themselves.  (Granted, that is just my speculation; I haven't seen the full study. But, based on what I do know, seems to me the study invalidated itself.)

Hyperbaric chambers: how athletes use them to stay healthy and energized

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are an element in my technothriller, A Remedy for Death. Interestingly, a couple of pieces I posted on the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy  have been probably the most read of all the posts on all of my websites  

(Here's a  link to one of those articles, and from that you can link to the second on hyperbaric therapy, as well as to another post on how swimmer Michael Phelps uses his hyperbaric chamber in training.)

This morning, the Washington Post featured another long article on the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers. This was on how the Washsington Nationals' relief pitcher, Rafael Soriano, uses his chamber through the season to keep himself young and healthy. "When I was younger, I didn't train like this," he said. He feels he is less likely to be injured, and recovers more quickly, particularly as the season goes on.

Here's a photo, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Wa PO PIC OF hyperbaric chamber

 His chamber is about 7.5 by 4 feet, and is inflatable via remote-controlled air pumps. While he's in it, for about 90 minutes, he can watch DVDs or text friends.

The article also mentions other athletes, both football baseball players, who use their hyperbaric chambers to get up for games, or, in many cases, to ward off or recuperate from injuries  . . . thereby lengthening their careers.

Oh yes, the price-tag. About $20,00--a good investment if it gives you another year or two with major-league.

Curious what the other most-read articles on my blogs have been? A poair of  posts on the so-called "Michael Crichton Conspiracy" that someone has put out onto the web a few years ago.  Crichton's thrillers were among my long-time top-favorites, so I posted it. And there's been hardly a day someone from around the world hasn't checked one or both of those pieces.  Rather than linking them,t, I'll just reblog the two original articles to this blog.





Washington Post article on Hyperbaric Chamber

"Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Repair the Damaged Brain?" -- new report

I posted here a couple of items on hyperbaric oxygen therapy a year ago, and since then they have been among the most visited on this A REMEDY FOR DEATH blog, so let's check in on a new report on studies on the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a method for helping to repair brains damaged by stroke, injury, or war wounds.

If you're not familiar with just what hyperbaric oxygen therapy is, and how it's administered, I suggest you start with my first post on the subject: Hyperbaric oxygen chambers--- nowadays not just science fiction.  You'll find my account of a visit to the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, a part of the Sebastian River Medical Center in Sebastian, Florida, along with my photos of hyperbaric chambers.  (I was there as part of my research for my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH.)

My second post on hyperbaric oxygen therapy " Hyperbaric oxygen chambers-- another use, this by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps" focuses on other uses of oxygen therapy to improve human performance. 

As I wrote then, "What's particularly interesting to me is that for healing purposes, patients enter the hyperbaric chambers and go as if underwater, where air pressure is heavier. Phelps and other athletes do the opposite: instead, they use the tanks set to simulate going up where the air is thinner. That simulated altitude changes the body make-up, stimulating the growth of red blood cells."

Now on to what's new in the field of hyperbaric oxygen therapy: an report by Kayt Sukel in the blog of the Dana Foundation, "Can hyperbaric oxygen repair the damaged brain?"

It reports on studies at three different institutions, one in Florida, one in Israel, and the other the U.S. Air Force. I won't try to summarize it, better to read it yourself.

And, by the way, as a (former, now reformed!) lawyer, let me remind you that I am not a medical doctor, rather only someone whose expertise comes as a curious by-product of my research for my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH: Playing God with body, soul, and bio-tech. So, dear reader, do not try this at home, see a real doctor!  End of legal provisos and cautions.)

Oh, and by the way,  were you wondering what hyperbaric oxygen therapy has to do with my book, A REMEDY FOR DEATH? My best suggestion is to read the book, as it gets into the use of hyperbaric oxygen tanks, bio-artificial organs, human stem cell implants, organ regeneration, regenerative medicine, the human mind . . . and how some elites have too much money and how they want to use all that dough to buy themselves (to repeat myself!) a remedy for death.

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers-- another use, this by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps

We recently examined here the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers as a tool to aid recuperation from  slow-to-heal wounds and other health conditions.  Link to that blog post:  "Hyperbaric oxygen chambers--- nowadays not just science fiction."

That was in the context of the role hyperbaric oxygen chambers play in my  medical techno-thriller,  A REMEDY FOR DEATH.

Today I came on another use of hyperbaric chambers, this in both USA Today and in more detail in Toronto's Globe and Mail.

American Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps 16 medals), has been "sleeping at 8,000 feet every night," in a hyperbaric chamber.

According to the Globe and Mail article, these chambers "are used by many athletes to replicate high-altitude conditions and boost levels of oxygen-rich blood cells."  Link to the article by Rachel Cohen in the Globe and Mail

What's particularly interesting to me is that for healing purposes, patients enter the hyperbaric chambers and go as if underwater, where air pressure is heavier.  Phelps and other athletes do the opposite: instead, they use the tanks set to simulate going up where the air is thinner.  That simulated altitude changes the body make-up, stimulating the growth of red blood cells.

And bear in mind the rumor that singer Michael Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber to slow the aging process.  Dr. Timothy Adkins (mentioned in my previous post, above) pointed out that he could not have slept all night in a chamber set to simulate underwater pressure: that would have resulted in damage and possible convulsions.

But --- and it is still a rumor, bear in mind --- perhaps Mr. Jackson, like Mr. Phelps, slept in a hyperbaric chamber set to a thinner atmosphere, as if on a mountain. Who knows?

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers--- nowadays not just science fiction.

Science fiction that's not fictional, technology that probably seemed far-out a couple or so decades back but is everyday use now.  I'm referring to hyperbaric oxygen chambers.

As hyperbaric chambers and hyperbaric oxygen therapy play key parts in my medical techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, I took advantage of an opportunity recently to visit (as an observer, not a patient) the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, a part of the Sebastian River Medical Center in Sebastian, Florida. 

I came away with some photos and info I hadn't previously known, and thought this would be a good place to share as background to readers of A REMEDY FOR DEATH.


 Before there was hyperbaric oxygen therapy to stimulate healing, there were decompression tanks for divers. Initially, decompression tanks were used with divers suffering from the bends, though more recently have been used to reduce the amount of underwater decompression needed from deep dives. (It's a lot more comfortable to sit or lie in a decompression chamber than to hang on a rope in cold water.)

The primary objective in using  hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a patient is to increase the concentration of oxygen in the blood, as a way of promoting healing. For that reason, a lot of the patients attending the Sebastian Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine suffer from diabetic wounds or other injuries that have bneen slow to heal.

Put them in a chamber, pump up the concentration to maybe two atmospheres or so (around what you'd be experiencing as a scuba diver 30-50 feet underwater), then increase the oxygen to 100% from its normal range when mixed with outside air, and healing significantly speeds up. Though, to qualify that, it may take 10, 30 or more sessions in the tank for the desired breakthrough.

Each "dive" lasts from one to about two and a  half hours. (The term "dive" comes from the old use for divers. Besides, if I were a patient, I think I'd rather brag to the gang down at the bowling alley that "I'm going to take a dive tomorrow", than say the ho-hum "off to therapy.")

While in that "dive," the patient lies on a comfortable bed, and can read or watch TV. (But definitely not smoke! Remember how bad things happen when pure oxygen and flames, or even sparks, get together.)  For that same reason-- to avoid any chance of a spark -- the maintenance staff uses special mops and solvents.

Here's another shot of a hyperbaric chamber, this time with the hatch sealed.  The tanks used here are open and bright, so patients don't risk the claustrophobic sense in other "tubes" such as MRI.


I said the primary objective in using hyperbaric therapy is to speed healing, that is, helping tissues knit together more rapidly.

But there are other uses, including to help the recovery of victims of stroke or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).  It seems that most of the more visionary experimental work has to be done outside the United States, because of our slow-to-change regulatory mode.

There was a rumor that singer Michael Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber in the hopes of staying young. Rumor or true, who knows.  But there is research being done on that now--- can hyperbaric oxygen therapy slow aging?

My thanks to Timothy G. Adkins, M.D., Medical Director at the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, part of the Sebastian River Medical Center, Sebastian, FL.  Oh, as to the question, What does it feel like to be in a hyperbaric chamber breathing oxygen?  According to Dr. Adkins, it doesn't feel any different than breathing normal air at normal pressure.

Hyperbaric therapy

Hyperbaric therapy


• “IRMH reopens center with new functions.” James Kirley (Indian River Medical Center)
Vero Beach Press-Journal, April 14, 2005. Contains photos of one type of hyperbaric chamber.

• “Hyperbaric Medicine: Effective treatment for non-healing wounds.” Paul W. Buza, DO, ACN, AME. Florida Halth Care News, Spring 2004