Today we would like to tell you about the origins of the hyperbaric chamber, its history and how this medical discipline was born.
Origins of the Hyperbaric Chamber
It may surprise you, but hyperbaric medicine dates back to 1662, making this discipline more than 300 years old. Although, as we know it today, modern hyperbaric medicine dates back to the 1960s, so earlier documents are merely historical, but no less interesting or relevant.
As mentioned, the origins of the hyperbaric chamber date back to the 16th century when Henshaw, a British clergyman who was a physiologist and physician, intuited that increased air pressure could alleviate some acute injuries, while, according to him, low pressures could be useful in chronic pathologies.
The first hyperbaric chamber was built by Henshaw, and he called it «Domicilium», it was both hyper and hypobaric.
After that, years later, so-called «Compressed air baths» spread throughout Europe, in which people breathed air, not oxygen, but by increasing the air pressure, they increased the partial pressure of oxygen.
Between 1837 and 1877 in several cities of Europe, such as Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Vienna and Milan, the so-called «Pneumatic Centers» were opened, one of the most recognized being the one founded by Bertini in Montpelier.
Already in the 19th century, the beneficial effects of oxygen therapy began to be discovered. It was Orville J.Cunninghan, a professor of anesthesia at the University of Kansas, used the elevated partial pressure of oxygen to treat hypoxic states, and observed how patients with heart problems and circulatory disorders, who felt badly living in the mountains, improved at sea level, so he considered that increasing the pressure could be beneficial for these people.
Also, thanks to his studies, it was learned that:
Cunningham believed that some anaerobic microorganisms were responsible for diseases such as hypertension, uremia, diabetes and cancer, and that compressed air therapy helped produce the destruction of these microorganisms.
The origins of modern hyperbaric medicine
One of the first scientific evidences of hyperbaric medicine as we know it today dates back to Paul Bert’s «La Pression baroméetrique: recherches de physiologie expéerimentale», published in 1878.
Bert was the first to propose oxygen recompression therapy, although modern therapy was implemented years later.
Andg oing back to 1960, when the origin of scientific hyperbaric medicine is really considered, was when the first patient with gas gangrene was treated in a hyperbaric chamber at the Amsterdam hospital.