It is that time of year when sport is at its zenith, when on hardening pitches all around the country, people are running into each other at speed and suffering injuries that require healing. In other spheres, people are recovering from illness; from the treatment of that illness and suffering because of the slowness of that progress.
So it is no surprise, that in ever increasing numbers, five years on from its opening, the pathway to the revolutionary oxygenation chamber at Galway’s OxyGeneration on Merchants Road is being well trodden — and the word is spreading.
Almost a fifth of the people who use the chamber do so on the basis of positive referrals from other users. The number of people who come in saying they have had their lives turned around by sped-up healing is increasing, and very satisfying to OxyGeneration founder Brian Lynch.
“It is very significant to hear our clients coming in and saying they have come in because of recommendations from people who have used it.
"They tell us that their friends have experienced an unbelievable turnaround in their healing cycle. Unfortunately for a lot of people who come in, it’s a last resort. They have tried everything else. Basically, the science behind it is you have a cell and its injured whether by accident or by virus or by disease, this system heals those individual cells."
He also feels that people would not have to endure inflammation if they were brought in at an earlier stage and were referred by their medical representatives.
“There are few outlying areas. Inflammatory bowel disease and some patients have to have an outside stoma bag, and if they were get into OxyGeneration at an earlier stage, they wouldn’t have to have it at all," he says.
The clientele is a varied demographic — but the events of the past few years have seen an increase in the number of young people, trying to rid themselves of the effect of lockdown conditions.
"The age factor has dropped hugely since COVID. It used to be that the demographic used to be people over 50 who were having diabetic problems and balance problems or neurological problems. 32 per cent were people who were coming in for wellness reasons, 15 per cent were sportspeople and footballers and hurlers in the chamber.
"Now, we've got younger people, school children and teenagers. Long Covid has been a great messenger because people were not being given any opportunities for really healing," he said. Now, many doctors recommend HBOT as part of the healing from the debilitating and tiring off-shoot of Covid.
Brian is pleased to see that the number of enlightened doctors who know the benefits of HBOT for certain conditions is growing and he welcomes the debate around the widespread use that he has encouraged in his latest book Oxygenation Is The Solution.
In the publication which has been recommended by leading physicians, he feels that in leading countries around the world, including Ireland, a divergence in healthcare treatments offered is causing patients to suffer what would be avoidable consequences of their condition.
"With hyperbaric oxygenation, this divergence has caused people to miss treatment opportunities in healthcare that increased their risk of adverse medical events and exposed people to avoidable consequences.
"For the wrong reasons, clinicians may feel constrained in their approach to recommending hyperbaric oxygenation and not want to step outside the box of the accepted norms. There are no black and white solutions and everyone suffers as a result of this," he wrote.
Brian is sure that his seminal work on the matter will promote an objective discussion and debate about the options available to those suffering from a range of ailments.
For those who are not familiar with HBOT, a quick guide - There is 21% oxygen in the air we breathe, however hyperbaric oxygenation delivers almost 100% oxygen under pressure. This increases oxygen delivery deeper into the tissue throughout the body and increases oxygen delivery to cells that may be struggling due to inflammation, circulation issues and/or injury and disease.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT ) was a much vaunted treatment that gained prominence over a century ago. At first, it was used for decompression illness caused by the then new pursuit of deep sea diving (the bends ) and later to enhance wound healing during wartime. But once antibiotics were introduced, hyperbaric oxygen therapy was pushed aside as a valued tool in the treatment of infectious diseases.
However, in the past few decades, there has been a renewed interest in hyperbaric oxygen therapy - increasingly to speed up the healing of deep tissue wounds, but also for such conditions as diabetic ulcers, multiple sclerosis and brain injuries.
Brian wanted to provide a private, world-class hyperbaric oxygenation service in Galway, that was more accessible and less expensive. This led to the opening of OxyGeneration at Merchant’s Road — with a high tech chamber and a welcoming staff who carry a great sense of positivity. The team at OxyGeneration also enjoy the success stories and share in the joy of clients who ring in with news of how their specific ailments have improved.
The chamber has the same dimensions as a Lear Fan jet, with facing seats like you would have on a Tube carriage. Sessions last around 80 minutes and in that time, you wear your own dedicated oxygen mask which you purchase and bring with you to every session. Boredom is never a factor as the Chamber has TVs to help you pass the time. You can also read or even use your laptop as you feel the invigorating effects of the pure oxygen.
For the last five years, OxyGeneration has been operating in Galway and is frequented by people from all walks of life — from those needing healing from radiation treatments or long Covid to the fittest of elite sportsmen and sportswomen, eager to get themselves back in peak condition.
Benefits for long Covid sufferers
Professor Jack Lambert UCD School of Medicine agrees that HBOT is beneficial to those suffering from long Covid and says it would make sense for the HSE to recommend the use of the treatment.
"Very few treatments are available for long Covid, a condition that is thought to represent brain inflammation, hypoperfusion of the brain due to microclots, and certain autoimmune processes that are ongoing post COVID-19 infection," he told the Advertiser.
"Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown in a number of similar neurological conditions to provide benefits to patients. Preliminary peer reviewed studies have been published showing the benefit of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for Long Covid patients. "Personal observations by myself on patients who have used HBOT who have suffered from LC have shown benefit from this therapy.
"As there are no current recommendations from the HSE on how to manage LC in Ireland, except for 'time' (time does not work ) and there are many HBOT centres in Ireland that are currently underutilised, it would make sense to offer this treatment modality to support LC patients in Ireland," added Dr Lambert.
Brian Lynch is glad to have started this journey for himself, his staff and his clients. It was after a serious riding accident that he experienced at first hand the possibilities of the use of HBOT.
"It's been great for all the people, and first of all, it was made a big difference to me, personally with my own injury. After all, I drove 35 times to 37 sessions. And from my hospital bed. I went for 20 sessions. And I still use it once a week," he added. Indeed, Brian is often the best advertisement for the service as he bounds with energy, enthusiasm and information.
“After my accident, I left St James Hospital in a wheelchair ambulance every day and did a session in the hyperbaric chamber in Dublin. When I started off, I was so bad with my chest in hospital, that physiotherapists had to come twice to help me to just cough," he recalled.
“I noticed improvements straightaway. At the sessions, I met people who avoided having to have their bowels removed; a lot of people who had diabetic foot ulcers who did the sessions to save themselves from having an amputation and a variety of other ailments. It impressed me and inspired me," he added.
OxyGeneration has the capacity and plant at this location to create its own oxygen, and the benefit of this was seen during lockdown when oxygen and its availability became a concern for hospitals throughout the world.
Global sports stars using it
He is also aware of the growing trend among top sports stars and athletes to benefit from OxyGeneration’s role to expedite recovery from injury. Real Madrid star and scorer of the winner in last season’s Champions League final, Vinicius Jnr has his own oxygenation chamber in his home in Madrid to enable him to recover from knocks and injuries more quickly.
Brian welcomes the increased profile that comes with top sports stars using oxygenation as a way to speed up recovery from an injury or swelling,
"More and more athletes are using OxyGeneration to ensure that an athlete performs at their peak. Increased circulation and oxygenation of the blood can lead to improved physical performance, while the added oxygen levels in tissues and cells also provide more energy, significantly reducing post-performance fatigue," he added.
HBOT chambers are known to quickly rebuild muscles after flushing the body with oxygen and stimulating the release of stem cells, which can help repair injured tissue and lower inflammation in the body.
It can also boost white blood cell creation - warding off the threat of infection and illness. This is the body's natural protective response and the influx of oxygen from the chamber will decrease the chance of an athlete hurting themselves, including reducing swelling, soreness and scarring.
Irish Life Health insurance members are also able to claim on their health insurance policy for sessions of Hyperbaric Oxygenation for conditions such as arterial insufficiency; to prevent amputation; compromised skin grafts and flaps; radiation necrosis, myoradionecrosis, osteoradionecrosis and other soft tissue radiation necrosis; chronic refractory osteomyelitis; and thermal burns including second-and third-degree burns.
The GAA Injury Benefit Fund and the Schools Accident Insurance also cover certain conditions in OxyGeneration subject to policy coverage.
Half a decade down, OxyGeneration is healing people quickly and making them feel better every day.
For more details, see www.OxyGeneration.com or contact 091 394444 for information.