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Not all Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers are Created Equally.

Not all Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers are Created Equally.

Soft Chambers V’s Hard Chambers—What’s the difference?

This is a question we get asked regularly and it’s time we gave a definitive answer, because not all Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers are created equally. Patients need to make sure they are getting the “real deal.”


Over the last decade there seems to have been an increasing amount of soft hyperbaric chambers being offered on the market, both for individuals to purchase and for use through a variety of fitness and wellness centres.


The prevalence of these chambers has led to a level of confusion amongst patients. Unfortunately, it’s now more common to hear patients say, “I didn’t get the results I expected or HBOT didn’t work for me.”


Upon digging deeper, the reasons why becomes very evident and understandable. In the vast majority of cases, the patient thought they were having HBOT treatment to manage a health complication. Research has shown that majority of health issues respond best to pressures above 1.5 to 3.0 ATA, when in fact the service the patient received was very much at the range less than 1.4 ATA in a soft chamber.


What is the real difference between Hyperbaric Chambers?

Hyperbaric Chambers are generally categorised as either “Hard” or “Soft”.


Dr William S. Maxfield M.D and Co-Founder of the American Board of Hyperbaric Medicine, describes it best in his book “The Oxygen Cure—A Complete Guide to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.”


“Hard-side chambers are made of acrylic, and soft-sided chambers are inflatable, but they do not provide the same benefits as hard chambers. HBOT given in a hard chamber can regrow bone and tissue in severely damaged areas of the body. They are made to go to pressures that heal. Soft-sided chambers were first designed to temporarily treat divers and mountain climbers en route to a hard chamber. Treatment provided in a hard chamber is supported by thousands of clinical studies…”

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber capable of delivering clinical benefits to a patient.

A “hard” hyperbaric oxygen chamber – capable of producing 1.5 and greater ATA’s and delivering clinical benefits to a patient.


What chamber is right for you?


This is a question that becomes very easy to answer once you consider whether the intent is to improve overall health and wellbeing or to support some sort of condition. Simply put, the soft chambers are hyperbaric chambers but not hyperbaric oxygen chambers, where the hard chambers are true hyperbaric oxygen chambers.


One of the “fathers” of HBOT Paul Harch MD, answers the question asked by almost every potential hyperbaric patient.


“What conditions can be helped by using hyperbaric oxygen therapy?”


His response:


“The short answer is that HBOT is useful for conditions caused or aggravated by reduced oxygen levels in the tissues, and other forms of injury as well.”


Harch Md, Paul G.. The Oxygen Revolution, Third Edition . Hatherleigh Press. Kindle Edition.


He then goes on to list the following conditions as candidates to benefit from HBOT in his book “The Oxygen Revolution, Third Edition.”

  • Birth injury, e. g., cerebral palsy and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy that can be caused by oxygen deprivation during or shortly after birth.

  • Other pediatric neurological conditions such as autism.

  • The long-term effects of head trauma.

  • The lingering effects of stroke.

  • Degenerative neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

  • Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and non-Alzheimer’s senility.

  • Accidents that result in oxygen deprivation, including common emergency situations such as near drowning, near hanging, carbon monoxide poisoning, cardiac arrests, and exposure to neurotoxins.

  • Alcohol and drug detoxification and the treatment of the brain injury resulting from these and other substances, including pharmaceutical drugs.

  • Cancer.


It is easy to see the vast scope of possibilities HBOT as a supporting treatment at clinical levels. That is, hard chamber and pressures in excess of 1.5 ATA.

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Soft chambers are very much targeted and designed as a temporary means of stabilising a patient for wellness and originally for treating altitude sickness.


When you’re considering undertaking hyperbaric oxygen therapy or continuing your journey, be careful you are investing in the treatment most likely to assist in you achieving your desired results.


Yes, soft chamber hyperbaric chamber services, are much cheaper, because the chambers are a fraction of the price of the hard chamber units. They also cannot be expected to deliver the sort of therapeutic benefits that will make a difference when wanting to support a medical condition.


Do your research and make an informed decision.