A hyperbaric chamber has been designed to achieve the goals of maximizing safety, minimizing complexity, and minimizing cost of hyperbaric chamber therapy. This design minimizes the volume of compressed gas in the chamber, and eliminates the need for complex gas mixing, carbon dioxide scrubbing, thermal management, and fire suppression systems. The simple pressurization system affords safe operation by minimally trained personnel. It requires only clean water and small volumes of compressed oxygen, and uses no electrical power. These features allow the chamber to be used in remote, undeveloped locations where hyperbaric oxygen therapy is currently not feasible.
The innovation consists of a small, single-occupant, upright chamber made of either metal or composite (Kevlar-like portable chamber). A child or an adult has the ability to sit while the chamber is filled with water. The seat of the chamber is mounted to the base, and can be raised or lowered to accommodate different occupant sizes. The lid of the chamber incorporates a transparent acrylic helmet/headpiece that provides the occupant with a large field of external vision. The lid is attached to the body with an elliptical ring that is tilted and connected for insertion, creating a stable, pressure-resistant seal. This lid has a valve through which oxygen can be supplied.
Usage parameters for the unit include: pressurization only to a single depth [30 feet (≈9 m) of seawater], pressure maintained by a single regular valve, oxygen supply regulated to 5 liters per minute, gas volume in the helmet constantly purged of CO2, treatment period limited to 60 minutes, treatment completed by shutting off oxygen and opening the pressure relief valve, pressure relief valve sets ascent rate, and the emergency relief valve is available for faster depressurization.
This work was done by James P. Locke of Johnson Space Center. MSC-24749-1