Which Hyperbaric Chamber is Right for You?

Which Hyperbaric Chamber is Right for You?

There are generally two styles of hyperbaric chambers: narrow, Plexiglas tubes that fit one person (“monoplace chambers”) and larger chambers that give patients room to sit in large comfortable chairs, or stand up (“multiplace chambers”). Virginia Mason’s Center for Hyperbaric Medicine is home to the Northwest’s only multiplace chamber.

Inside the hyperbaric chamber

Monoplace Hyperbaric Chambers

Monoplace chambers are clear acrylic tubes. The patient lies on a tray that slides out from one end. Once the patient is inside, the door is locked and the chamber is pressurized with oxygen. Claustrophobia can be a significant problem and some patients cannot lie on their back for the 90-120 minutes required for treatment. Patients are not allowed to bring books, magazines or other flammable materials into monoplace chambers. One potential advantage of monoplace chambers is that patients can look out and watch television.

Multiplace Hyperbaric Chambers

Multiplace chambers, like the one at Virginia Mason, are large and made of steel. Our chamber is 46 feet long and about as big around as a Boeing 737. It has two large treatment compartments, which can treat up to eight patients at a time. Patients walk into the chamber and sit in large recliner chairs. Patients can stand up, lie down, or read and play games. This makes treatment feel a little like a first-class airplane flight. The patients breathe oxygen that is delivered through comfortable “oxygen hoods.” Nurses are in the chamber during treatment to monitor care and answer questions. Our chamber contains a private restroom.

Some patients enjoy time to themselves during treatment. Some patients enjoy the opportunity to meet other patients. This can form a spontaneous support group that helps patients recharge and gather strength. This doesn’t occur in monoplace chambers where the patient is locked away and isolated.