Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) study on Professional Ballet Dancers

I hope you found this past Conversation Sunday piece, Q & A Session with Jill Vonderhaar Nader, PT and Pilates Specialist, to be helpful.  Jill is a great resource for dancers, so take a look if you haven’t had the chance.

Shallow Portable Chamber

On a different note, I chose to take part in a study conducted by Dr. Michelle Reillo, a researcher and specialist for hyperbaric medicine, also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).  What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy? HBOT is simply the medical use of oxygen at a higher level than atmospheric pressure.  Dr. Michelle Reillo contacted a Kansas City Ballet dancer with her interest in conducting a hyperbaric therapy study for professional ballet dancers.  For the study, each participating dancer received a 30 minute hyperbaric oxygen therapy session in a shallow portable chamber.  Each dancer was required to fill out a pre and post test associated with the study.  I have to admit, I knew very little about HBOT and was hesitant at first to participate.  To familiarize the dancers, Dr. Michelle Reillo shared some videos about the use of hyperbaric, which I thought I would also share with you:

This video is of the ballroom dancers that Michelle treated in Florida.
It shows the chamber we will be using.

An NFL player talks about his use of hyperbaric:

A news feature about hyperbaric treatment with athletes.  This is a
different type of chamber.

Upon talking with Dr. Michelle Reillo, and doing a little research of my own, I learned that HBOT helps relieve fatigue, enhances recovery time for neuromuscular injuries, and enhances post recovery.  My next thought was exactly how does HBOT do all that?  In order to find my answer, I found an article that broke down what happens when an injury occurs, and how HBOT helps:

  • When an injury occurs, swelling and edema (excess fluid of connective tissues) forms as a protective mechanism.
  • Other natural reactions to injury occur, such as when red blood cells compress, which restricts the ability for healthy oxygen carrying plasma and red blood cells to reach the injury site.
  • These injured tissue sites then become starved for oxygen, which ultimately slows or impedes healing.
  • Under HBOT, oxygen transport by plasma and hemoglobin is significantly increased, which is limited under normal atmospheric pressure.
  • Therefore, HBOT allows oxygen to reach the injury site so cells can heal and the immune system can defend harmful agents.
It was interesting to be in the chamber.  Dr. Michelle Reillo warned us that our ears would want to pop, much like the feeling you get when you are on an airplane.  Other than that it was relaxing.  Coming out, I had mild reactions such as glistening eyes (I guess from the oxygen), and feeling more energized.  Other dancers seemed to have had even more positive results.  I’m looking forward to seeing what step will be taken next in the study, and I hope that we can receive further treatments.  What I do like from all this, is that studies are starting to be done on ballet dancers, and not just athletes.  It’s a step in the right direction.  


2 thoughts on “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) study on Professional Ballet Dancers

  1. Thank you for posting this information. I would like to work with the company to establish a chamber for their permanent use. Please contact me gasbear@aol.com. Many thanks.


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