The Robert M. Lombard Hyperbaric Oxygenation Medical Center, Inc.
Frequently Asked Questions
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FAQ's
Why do I need a prescription for hyperbaric therapy?
 
Medical oxygen is a controlled drug by the FDA and must be prescribed by a physician.
 
Where do I get a prescription?
 
Your physician can prescribe the therapy for you, or you may schedule a consultation with our Medical Director.  If appropriate, he will prescribe the therapy for you.  If your physician has questions concerning the therapy, we will be happy to discuss hyperbaric treatments with your doctor!
 
How do I know if I am a candidate for treatment? 
 
Most people are able to have hyperbaric oxygenation therapy.  In a few cases, those taking certain medications or chemotherapeutic drugs or those with poor heart function or decreased lung capacity (as with emphysema) and some other rare instances, are ruled out.  We will be happy to provide information to you or your health professional if you have questions regarding a particular condition and how it may be affected by this therapy. 
 
What is the age limit for treatment?
 
All ages, including babies, young children, and the elderly, can safely receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy, unless certain physical conditions exclude them from therapy. In our monoplace chamber setting, we are able to tailor individual treatment plans, including time and atmospheric pressure, to each person.  An infant would not necessarily receive the same treatment protocol as an adult. We will be happy to provide information to you or your health professional if you have questions regarding a particular condition and how it may be affected by this therapy. 
 
How many treatments will I need?
 
A treatment plan is based on your diagnosis. Some conditions need a few treatments -- 2-5 or so.  Many conditions require 20-40 treatments or more (a treatment generally is 60 or 90 minutes; a patient receives one or two treatments per day, five days a week).  Nationwide, some patients have had hundreds of treatments over the years.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has a cumulative effect on the body, and as changes happen, future treatments build on past effects.
 
What does a treatment feel like?
 
Typically, patients feel a change of pressure in their ears, similar to the descent of an airplane or driving over a mountain.  Also, a patient may feel warm while going to pressure, comfortable when at pressure and chilly when coming up from pressure.  (The temperature changes have to do with the laws of physics.) You will be given blankets for your treatment.
 
How can I clear my ears?
 
We recommend holding your nose and swallowing as an easy technique to "open" your ears. Holding one's nose and blowing out lightly (the Valsalva maneuver) is a technique used by many scuba divers and works well in the hyperbaric setting. Other techniques include yawning, swallowing, taking sips of water, jutting out the jaw, and tilting your head back.  EarPlanes are special earplugs with a ceramic filter that permit the pressure to be slowly introduced to the eardrums allowing time for the ears to equalize. They are available in drugstores. For those who are unable to equalize the pressure, a myringotomy (ear tubes) may be recommended.
 
What can I do during a treatment?
 
Many patients bring music or videos.  There is a large selection of movies or audio tapes as well as books-on-tape at the center from which to choose, suitable for children or adults.  Some prefer to watch television or to sleep during therapy. All music, radio, video, books-on-tape and television sound is piped into the chamber.  A patient is not permitted to carry external electronic devices or reading material into the chamber for safety reasons. 
 
Do I need special clothing?
 
ONLY clean, all-cotton clothing is allowed in the chamber.  Hospital-type gowns are available for patients to use at the Medical Center. Please remove all jewelry, makeup, oils, creams and do not use alcohol based products prior to treatment.  You will not be permitted in the chamber if you are not "clean" of oil- or alcohol-based products.
 
Can my child go in the chamber alone?
 
Unless the child has difficulty swallowing or clearing their airway, most children are quite capable of being in the chamber by themselves. They are easily entertained by the TV or videos playing outside the chamber and quickly forget that they are alone.  In fact, in many cases, this is the easiest therapy the child has ever had.  External attention is paid to every person during the treatment.  Of course, if the child needs internal chamber attention, the caregiver is permitted to accompany the child during treatment.
 
Will my insurance cover treatment costs?
 
Insurance companies vary slightly in their coverage.  However, they usually only cover certain conditions, typically only what's on the Medicare "approved indications" list.  But this is not true in all cases and in all states.  Check with your insurance carrier for more information.  When contacting them, ask specifically if your diagnosis is covered when receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatments.  Beware the statement, 'hyperbaric oxygen is part of your benefit package,' because "benefits are not a guarantee of payment!"  While hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be a benefit under your insurance plan, payment is only made if the claim meets certain requirements and is considered "medically necessary." The diagnosis must meet the requirements for an insurance 'covered condition.'  Members may request a predetermination of benefits from their insurance company for a particular diagnosis and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 
 
I've heard that the FDA doesn't approve "off-label" uses for hyperbaric therapy, only what's on the 'covered conditions' list.  Is this true?
 

True. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be treated if you have an “off-label” condition. The FDA plays an important role in approving the type of chamber used in hyperbaric therapy and the types of indications (conditions) approved to be treated in those chambers, just as it approves the use of other types of machinery or drugs for medical use.  The FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine.  Once the FDA approves a treatment, licensed physicians can prescribe it for any purpose they consider medically appropriate. Physicians may prescribe certain drugs—like oxygen, for "off-label" use, a use other than what the FDA approves its use for.  This is why "off-label" conditions may be treated with hyperbaric oxygen. Physicians must still follow FDA guidelines and prescribe oxygen for hyperbaric therapy.

 

A condition becomes “approved” to be treated with hyperbaric oxygen when rigorous studies, and double blind studies, demonstrate a measurable degree of improvement in a particular condition. It costs millions of dollars to conduct medical research that meets the FDA standards to allow claims for successful treatment of a specific illness.  Because oxygen cannot be patented, profits on sales of oxygen are too small to pay for studies that meet FDA requirements.

 

The insurance industry often takes the position that if the FDA has not issued a formal approval for the treatment of a particular injury or condition with hyperbaric oxygen, then it must be considered investigational or experimental and does not cover the cost of treatment.

 

 

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