Hyperbaric Chambers

File:Decompression chamber.jpg

How do hyperbaric chambers work and how can they be used?

A hyperbaric (high pressure) chamber is a closed container, sufficiently large to house a human body. A chamber contains its own supply of compressed air. Controlling the release of this air allows the inside of the chamber to simulate different levels of atmospheric pressure from the outside.

A hyperbaric chamber is typically split into three parts: The first is the pressure vessel in which the occupant is held; the second is the pressure supply (a source of highly pressurised gas); the third is the oxygen supply.

The main use of a hyperbaric chamber is in hyperbaric medicine to treat decompression sickness in divers (dissolved gases bubbling inside the body after it surfaces too quickly). Keeping a patient in a high-pressure atmosphere with a more oxygen-rich air supply eliminates the bubbles and helps the body to recover. For other maladies (including burns, anemia crush injury and gangrene), hyperbaric oxygen therapy speeds up the body’s natural healing systems, because it increases the amount of oxygen absorbed in the blood and carried to other organs.

Outside of medical areas, a hyperbaric chamber can be used as a training tool for divers (particularly in Naval Forces), as it allows them to acquaint themselves with a high-pressure environment and there test their physical performance.

Impersonal chambers are also useful in the field of scientific research, as they can be used to find out if organisms or chemicals behave differently when the pressure around them is altered.

Sources: ehow.com; livestrong.com; sciencedirect.com

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