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Inflatable Chambers (Mild HBOT)

Published at Apr 10, 2018 4:39:04 PM


Photo attribution: Mckeeman at English Wikipedia

In today’s global market, claim to a new method of hyperbaric treatment delivery has appeared under the name ‘mild’ or ‘soft’ hyperbaric oxygen therapy (also referred to as Mild HBOT) using inflatable chambers.

Read this blog post to find out!

Introduction to Hyperbaric Therapy 

Hyperbaric therapy is a well-known and documented medical practice which provides a vast array of health benefits. Benefits include the faster healing of wounds and muscle injuries, and so it is frequently utilized by athletes as well as post-surgery patients. It is also used to treat many conditions such as diabetic foot, metabolic disease and radiation injury.

The hyperbaric therapy has great success in a variety of medical fields, including:
  • Orthopaedic
  • Othorinolaringoiatry
  • Ophthalmology
  • Dermatology and Oncology




In today’s global market, claim to a new method of hyperbaric treatment delivery has appeared under the name ‘mild’ or ‘soft’ hyperbaric oxygen therapy (also referred to as Mild HBOT) using inflatable chambers.

These soft chambers are often produced in Far Eastern countries such as China and, with their extremely low price-tag, can appear to be an attractive purchase to the average consumer interested in hyperbaric therapy but lacking expertise in this field. As a result, these devices are sometimes assumed to be equal to, or a valid contender of, rigid metallic-structured hyperbaric chambers.

These inflatable devices have several disadvantages, however, that can detrimentally affect the health of the user. Let’s consider some of these:

  • Working pressure: Oxygen starts its bacteriostatic action from 0.5 bar (equivalent of 5 meters or 16 feet of sea water). At a lower pressure, as found in the inflatable chamber, oxygen does not kill bacteria but will even enhance the growth of some bacteria.  High pressure is required for the body to start getting any benefits from hyperbaric treatment therapy.
    • Inflatable hyperbaric chambers have a weak structure and therefore can only reach a pressure of 0.3 bar (equivalent to 3 meters or 10 feet of sea water) - below the threshold of effectiveness.
    • Rigid hyperbaric chambers withstand higher pressure (from 2 bar up to 10 bar, depending on model and make). This means that only a rigid chamber can provide an effective hyperbaric treatment therapy.
  • Approval and certifications: An inflatable chamber is not a PVHO (Pressure Vessel for Human Occupancy) and is not approved or certified by any international authority. Using an inflatable chamber is a health and safety hazard for the occupant.  You will not find an inflatable chamber in any reputable clinic or hospital as these facilities must adhere to recognized and certified medical standards.


  • Oxygen partial pressure and tissue oxygenation: Inflatable chambers can only increase the oxygen’s partial pressure by a few percent. This means its ‘treatments’ are useless as they don’t actually increase the oxygenation of body tissues. By contrast, a rigid hyperbaric chamber works at a minimum of 2 bar of oxygen partial pressure which is more than 10 times the pressure of the inflatable chamber. Only at this heightened pressure can a restorative effect take place within the body’s tissues.


  • Authorities position: American NFPA Journal (National Fire Protection Association) Jan/Feb 2017: Private citizens, some influenced by celebrity athletes including former National Football League star Terrell Owens, who touted breathing pressurized oxygen as a way to recover from injuries are purchasing portable, low-pressure fabric hyperbaric chambers, also known as “bag chambers,” for home use. The devices retail from $7,000 to more than $17,000 and can be set up and put into operation within hours after delivery. But Workman and others say the devices are not being manufactured, housed, operated, or maintained in a manner consistent with NFPA 99, increasing the risk of fire or explosion and, as a result of the mechanical or physiological effects of higher pressure, injury or death. There are no reliable figures of the number of these home-use chambers (also called mild hyperbaric chambers) currently in use, but Workman estimates there are “many thousands” of them certainly more than the number of chambers that are in use in hospital or clinic-based facilities. Workman continues: “So many people look up to professional athletes they see a TV clip of a big football player with a chamber over his shoulder and think, ‘What’s good enough for him is good enough for me.” The FDA classifies bag chambers as medical devices and authorizes their use only for acute mountain sickness brought on, in part, by exposure to high-altitude, low-oxygen environments. But manufacturers and operators, using cleverly worded ads, are promoting the bags for a variety of what are referred to as “off-label” uses, such as weight loss, anti-aging, or improved stamina, as well as for more serious conditions.  What is of key concern to life-safety officials is that the bags do not currently comply with the design and fabrication safety requirements of ASME's Safety Standard for Pressure Vessels for Human Occupancy (ASME PVHO) and/or NFPA 99. The bags are designed to be used with compressed air, but many users connect them to oxygen concentrators. NFPA 99 requires that the exhaust of all hyperbaric chambers be piped to the exterior of buildings. Without such venting, oxygen can build up to dangerously high levels in both the chamber and the immediate vicinity, Workman said(For the whole article, please see: https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications/NFPA-Journal/2017/January-February-2017/Features/Hyperbaric-chambers)

The cost of an inflatable chamber is normally 10 to 20 times less than a real hyperbaric chamber because, as highlighted above, these inflatable devices are basically toys with no proven health benefits - whether they are used at home or in any facility advocating their purported merits.

Without EC marking and certification, they cannot be sold or purchased in Europe. However, even when EC marking is present it only covers the material it was manufactured with. It does not assure any level of effectiveness since inflatable chambers are not certified as hyperbaric chambers or medical devices. Therefore, they are not used by hospitals or hyperbaric clinics - nor are they endorsed by medical hyperbaric research.

By contrast, medically endorsed hyperbaric therapies are performed in certified, rigid hyperbaric chambers by trained and qualified hyperbaric technicians. These skilled personnel carefully manage the entire process - monitoring all variables according to national and international medical, health and safety regulations and standards for best practice - not only for the chamber itself but also for all related ancillary equipment, procedures and facilities.

In conclusion, the only assurance that ‘Mild HBOT’ can provide is that it will be, in best-case scenario, mild on one’s pocket and only mildly dangerous to one’s safety.

Argomenti: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

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