In a 2008 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Symposium, Dr. Frederick S. Cramer discussed epilepsy and the hyperbaric chamber. It has long been known that a high dose of oxygen causes seizures. In the past, if a person were predisposed to having seizures they would be turned down from using a hyperbaric chamber to help any other ailment. So while use of the chamber seems to be a contraindication, it seems as if the high dose of oxygen can actually benefit people suffering from seizures.
A high dose of oxygen can cause seizures, but many seizures are localized, and the area in which they are occurring is lacking in oxygen. So although it seems dangerous to put a person with epilepsy in a hyperbaric chamber, it may be just what their body needs.
How Does a Hyperbaric Chamber Work?
A hyperbaric chamber is a controlled, tube-like enclosed chamber. The chamber is typically set at 100% oxygen and it is pressurized up to three times higher than the normal amount of pressure in the atmosphere. The increased pressure causes the body to get a higher concentration of oxygen faster than if using a traditional oxygen mask or cannula.
There are two types of chambers, monoplace and multiplace. The monoplace chamber holds only one person and they must be in a laying position. The multiplace chamber can be used for more than one person, and they can sit or lay down. Typically in the multiplace chamber patients must wear a mask to get the oxygen. While in the chamber, patients are monitored by medical staff on the outside. A typical treatment lasts from one to two hours. Treatment in the chamber is used for many different reasons, such as diving accidents (decompression sickness), radiation therapy damage, burns, sports injuries, and infection to name just a few. The side effects of using the chamber are minimal. Some people experience a popping sound in their ears during treatment, and some people feel a bit lightheaded or dizzy for a few minutes after treatment.
The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not widely used for seizures. With the apparent success of those who have lessened the frequency of seizures, it may be something that the medical community should consider more frequently. If you have taken several medications without success, tried changing your diet, or any other alternative types of help, you may want to discuss the possibility of using a hyperbaric chamber with your doctor.