Patients undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Oxford Recovery.
Patients undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Oxford Recovery. (Courtesy of Oxford Recovery)

The Oxford Recovery Center provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy, coordinated with other treatments for an integrated approach, for more than 100 conditions.

Oxygen is a necessity for life — to transfer energy from food into a usable form and to perform vital functions throughout the body. More than 100 years ago, a hyperbaric chamber — an enclosed space with high concentrations of oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressure — was first used in the U.S. for medical purposes.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Under these conditions, your lungs can gather much more oxygen than would be possible breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. When your blood carries this extra oxygen throughout your body, this helps fight bacteria and stimulate the release of substances called growth factors and stem cells, which promote healing.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved hyperbaric oxygen therapy for 14 medical conditions, including wounds that don’t heal because the patient is diabetic and severe burns. Exposure to high-pressure oxygen is believed to stimulate the formation of new blood vessels and aid the body’s infection-fighting ability.

In recent years, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been used outside the U.S. for additional conditions such as stroke recovery, autoimmune disorders and autism. In the U.S “off-label” use of HBOT for non-FDA-approved medical treatment is permitted by licensed physicians but may not be covered by insurance.

Locally, the Oxford Recovery Center, founded in 2008 by Tami Peterson, provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy, coordinated with other treatments for an integrated approach, for more than 100 conditions, including autism, concussions, stroke, anxiety and auto-immune disorders, according to Ned Kulka, Oxford’s marketing director.

Peterson started Oxford Recovery Center after her young daughter was diagnosed with viral encephalitis and suffered severe neurological setbacks. When Peterson learned about HBOT, her daughter was treated with it and made a remarkable recovery.

Stroke Recovery

Today, Oxford provides a broad range of treatments for children and adults at Brighton and Troy locations. One patient, folksinger Ron Coden, 78, of Huntington Woods, began HBOT five times a week after a serious stroke in January 2020, according to his daughter Casey Coden Diskin, M.A., Oxford’s executive director of ARTS Autism Services.

“He wasn’t talking at all and his left side was numb,” she said. “He started hyperbaric, and it did amazing things for his speech and neurological issues.

“He is able to hold a conversation and sing. He continues to have maintenance once a week. This keeps up the oxygen level in the blood which supports stem cell production.”

Recent research indicates that the therapy may help slow down the aging process, as measured by the shortening of telomeres, the DNA protein structure at the end of each chromosome. A small portion of telomere DNA is lost through normal cell division and over time, telomeres become shorter and cells lose their ability to divide, resulting in aging.

A team of physicians at Tel Aviv University, led by Shai Efrati, M.D., associate professor, and Amir Hadanny, M.D., chief of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research, conducted a study of 63 healthy individuals ages 64 and older. About half of the group received 60 hyperbaric sessions over the course of 90 days but did not change their diet, medication or lifestyle. Participants’ blood samples were compared with a control group who did not have HBOT. Results showed that those who had HBOT had less telomere shortening and reduced accumulation of senescent (older-type) cells.

“Until now, interventions such as lifestyle modifications and intense exercise were shown to have some inhibition effect on the expected telomere length shortening,” explained Dr. Hadanny. “However, what is remarkable to note in our study, is that in just three months of HBOT, we were able to achieve such significant telomere elongation — at rates far beyond any of the current available interventions or lifestyle modifications.”

The Israeli study was published last year after peer review in the journal Aging.