Boron Chambers. Hyperbaric Medicine In Bali

The atmosphere contains only 20 percent oxygen. Sufficient for breathing, but what if we increase the content of this gas in the air, for example, to 100%? After all, if oxygen is the "fuel" for our body, cells, and organs, then after such a "refueling," one can expect incredible effects!
For such procedures, devices called hyperbaric chambers are used. There are several of them in Bali, and as we found out, they can be quite useful - hyperbaric medicine is mainly in demand among diving enthusiasts.
We met with Dr. Anita Davi, who told us about the purpose, application, and peculiarities of working with these, perhaps, the largest medical devices.
Photo: Dr. Anita Devi
Tell me about your medical career and how you became a doctor in hyperbaric medicine.
- My name is Anita Davi, I work as a doctor at Kasih Ibu General Hospital Saba in the hyperbaric department of the Hyperbaric & Diving Medicine Centre. I have been working in this field for about 12 years now. Initially, I worked as a general practitioner in Denpasar, and then I obtained my diploma in hyperbaric medicine at the Naval Hospital in Surabaya, Java, and returned to Bali to help people with the use of hyperbaric chambers. Now I work in this new center where we have excellent equipment: the chamber itself is from 2019, while in other hospitals, the chambers are older.
So, there are several hospitals in Bali with such chambers?
- Yes, in Bali, there are three hospitals with hyperbaric chambers. One has been operating since 1995, the second since 2017, and ours opened quite recently.
Is this equipment in demand on the island, and what is it used for?
- Here in Bali, our patients are primarily divers who are treated for decompression sickness. We also see diabetics and patients with sudden deafness. In general, the hyperbaric chamber is used for overall prevention, wellness, and even in cosmetic procedures.
Tell me more about the essence of these procedures?
- For divers, it goes like this - at depth, they breathe air under pressure, which dissolves in the blood, similar to gas in a sealed cola bottle. But if they ascend too quickly - it's like opening a bottle: bubbles appear. Naturally, they can cause problems in the body. In such cases, we place the person in a hyperbaric chamber, create the appropriate pressure there, the bubbles dissolve back into the blood, and then, gradually reducing the pressure, we give the gas time to leave the blood and the body without causing harm and eliminating the diver's complications. The procedure itself is quite simple - inhaling pure, 100% oxygen through a special mask in a sealed chamber. For comparison: in the regular air we breathe, oxygen is only 20 percent, nitrogen makes up 78 percent, and 2 percent is other gases. The chamber itself also creates high pressure. Depending on the need, it's 3-4 atmospheres and more. As a result of the procedure, the oxygen saturation of the body tissues increases by 15-20 times. In cases where some tissues and cells of the body lacked oxygen, the hyperbaric chamber corrects this.
If we perceive oxygen as fuel, energy for our body, cells, and tissues, then we can say that the hyperbaric chamber is like a refueling station for humans. Oxygen is also an important part of collagen synthesis, and increasing its level naturally increases the speed of its production. Oxygen influences the synthesis of elastin, one of the most important proteins in our body, along with collagen. Thus, the time spent in the hyperbaric chamber has a very positive effect not only on your skin but also on the overall condition of the body. And that's not all - increasing the level of oxygen in cells also contributes to wound healing, recovery after a stroke. The hyperbaric chamber can be useful, particularly for the brain. If cells suffer from hypoxia, lack of oxygen, even thinking can be difficult. The hyperbaric chamber also helps with dementia.
How long do the procedures take and how often do they need to be done?
- Naturally, different patients require different amounts and durations of treatment. For example, in cases of acute decompression sickness, when there is partial paralysis, numbness, and other symptoms, typically one fairly long procedure is sufficient. We follow international standards for such treatment.
For most other cases, such as preventive measures, several visits are needed. Typically, we start with 5 procedures every day, then take a break for 2 days to create "oxygen hunger" in the body's cells, which have become accustomed to oxygen saturation over the week. This makes the treatment more effective. After the break, we continue with sets of 5 procedures for another 5 days. The number of procedures can reach up to 30, depending on the specific goals of the prevention. These standard procedures take about two hours.
Are there any contraindications for using the hyperbaric chamber?
- There are several restrictions, for example, untreated pneumothorax, various nasal congestion issues, colds, and similar problems. They prevent equalizing pressure in the cavities of the head with the pressure in the chamber. In such cases, we first give patients medications, and after some time - from several hours to several days - we can proceed with the procedures again. People with a fever are also given antibiotics first to avoid complications. Other contraindications include severe forms of hypertension, claustrophobia, and increased sensitivity to oxygen.
I've heard that hyperbaric chambers can be used in the treatment of COVID-19?
- We don't specifically treat COVID-19, but we do accept patients with complications from it. For example, foggy consciousness, breathing problems, rapid fatigue, and other serious side effects of COVID-19. For such cases, usually five days of treatment, two hours each day, are sufficient.
How does the procedure go exactly?
- After the necessary check-up, the client is provided with special clothing, without pockets, to ensure no extra items are brought into the chamber. Phones, watches, music players, or heaven forbid, vapes, are not allowed inside. To alleviate boredom, small windows in the hyperbaric chamber allow for watching movies, and speakers enable listening to music. Then, you enter the hyperbaric chamber, sit in one of the chairs, put on the mask, the door closes, and the "submersion" begins. A barometer on the wall indicates the pressure inside the chamber. Now, all that's left is to sit back and recuperate.
Do many divers come for the procedures?
- Yes, they come regularly, not only from Bali but also from Lombok, the Gili Islands, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Lembongan. Primarily, these are recreational divers who have violated decompression rules, particularly in terms of ascent dynamics. Sometimes, professional "underwater workers" also come. The thing is, if you have 2-3 dives a day and sometimes need to ascend faster than necessary, because of careless students for example, nitrogen accumulates in the tissues, and this can manifest over time. That's why we strongly recommend instructors and assistants to undergo hyperbaric chamber procedures at least once every six months, preferably once every three months, to be sure that everything is okay and that no complications threaten them in the future. Of course, if you only dive a few times a year, such preventive measures are not necessary.
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