We will look at some specific sports applications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The therapy has been shown to be a great add-on to traditional recovery modalities.
The basic of the therapy are as follows: We use a hyperbaric chamber that takes air pressure up to 1.4 ATM and provides 90% pure oxygen via a mask to the person lying in the chamber.
Muscle injuries typically fall into two categories:
1. Contusions and lacerations. These are trauma type injuries from a direct force such as could happen during a rugby tackle, or, a laceration where the muscle tears due to explosive acceleration.
2. Strains. Endurance athletes often overuse a specific muscle which can then begin to play up.The extent of muscle pain can be varied. From mild muscle cramps to the agony of a complete muscle rupture. The pain can take place during sports activities, it can, however, take place hours to days post exercise. (This type of pain is known at DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness).
The first study done by [Oriani et al. 1982] suggested a 55% reduction time in recovery post muscle injury. Numerous studies have also found a reduction in the severity of DOMS after hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
Traumatized muscle can become ischemic. Due to the initial trauma and subsequent swelling around the injury site, blood supply is often restricted. This causes a shortage of oxygen and glucose to the areas that need it most.
A study done by [Haapaniemi et al. 1996] concluded that HBO therapy had positive aspects for at least 48 hours after severe injury. The mix of higher levels of oxygen and phosphate compounds had a positive effect on the injured area. Further studies by [Gregorevic et al. 2000], showed improved levels of recovery past the 14-day mark.
Temple University reported a 30% faster recovery time for people recovering from ankle sprains after HBO therapy. [Staples and Clement, 1996].
Medial collateral ligament – Anterior cruciate ligament repairs.
A number of studies have been done on these injuries [Horn et al. 1999] [Mashitori et al. 2004] all noticed quicker recovery times. This is due to enhanced collagen synthesis.
A number of studies have pointed to an increase of osteogenesis. In other words, bones are regenerated more quickly and thus repair is sped up.
Studies such as [Okubo et al. 2001] & [Muhonen et al. 2004] all point to faster recovery times.
In summary, injured bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles benefit from extra oxygen levels in the blood stream. One of the best ways of getting this right is via mild hyperbaric therapy. It is important to note that the above therapy is an add-on to conventional therapies.