Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers for Treating Horse InjuriesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 12, 2012
When horses are exposed to oxygen at increased atmospheric pressure, their tissues absorb oxygen that can fight infection, aid in healing damaged tissues, and support recovery after a complicated colic surgery.
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers can be found at equine clinics and rehabilitation centers where they are used under the guidance of a veterinarian. A typical chamber is a freestanding structure that resembles a circular stall with thick walls and several windows. A horse can be led into the chamber and left to move freely as oxygen is pumped in and the pressure is raised gradually to a level several times greater than normal. Treatment times are usually between 45 and 60 minutes, and a series of treatments is often used.
Proper construction, use, and maintenance of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber are important for the safety of horses and technicians. Prescribing veterinarians are trained so that they can decide whether to use the therapy on a particular horse, and chamber operators should be experienced in administering treatments.
A few health conditions have the potential to be made worse by hyperbaric oxygen therapy, so a veterinarian should examine a horse before its first treatment.