The Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development said 115 patients suffering various conditions have been treated at the Roxborough Hyperbaric Chamber Facility, in the last five years.
In a release on Friday, the division said the chamber has been a lifesaver, medically and financially for many who don’t have enough money to access this type of therapy service privately.
The hyperbaric chamber is used to treat anaemia, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns, radiation injuries from cancer treatments, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, strokes and sports-related injuries just to name a few. The machine produces pure oxygen in a tightly-sealed room.
The oxygen therapy treatment assists with speeding up patient's recovery through increased blood oxygen level.
In 2015 the division refurbished the 22-year-old abandoned chamber and has since provided free hyperbaric services to Tobagonians. Initially, the chamber was bought to treat driver's decompression sickness.
Decompression sickness happens when divers go up to the surface too quickly and air bubbles get into the lungs.
This week marks five years since Tobago reintroduced this service to the island. The Roxborough Hyperbaric Chamber is the only one in the public health service.
The release said, "The fact that the service is free of charge makes it even more appealing to patients, with their alternative being to travel to Trinidad and beyond for private facilities and expensive treatments."
The division said the treatment can prevent patients suffering with diabetic ulcers from getting worse and developing gangrene.
The division revealed testimonials of patients utilising the service.
Type 1 diabetic Junior Rowley uses the chamber three times a week and has done 20 sessions to treat a wound.
Rowley said, “At the end of my treatment it was totally closed up, and I continued my recovery at the health centre and such, and the doctors are quite pleased.
“I am a cyclist and I could not ride at all; now I’m back on my bike. The only thing I can’t do is swim, because we cannot go to the beach.”
Amputee and type 2 diabetic Earl Williams also benefited from the oxygen therapy. He started a year ago to treat complications associated with diabetes.
These include complications with his eyes, poor circulation and a diabetic ulcer on his foot. He said after using the chamber his condition has improved after 14 sessions.
Williams said, “I used to get cramp and thing in my foot… right now, I not getting no cramp. Like I could control my breathing better. It’s a big change. If I complain I would be wicked; I can’t complain at all. I start to tell people about it and how the chamber is and how it helped.”
Manger of the facility Ray Hinds said the chamber should not be seen as a miracle cure.
"But it floods the body with pure oxygen, which has a rejuvenating effect, and even improves your sleep. Bacteria also cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment either, so these factors aid in recovery," Hinds said.
According to Hinds, even he is sometimes surprised at the results.
"The worst-case scenario is really in the progress of a wound that we had, to me it was far gone, and after nine treatments, it was healed, and we’re talking about a big wound – the guy didn’t even think he would keep the foot.”
Hinds urged residents to take better care of their health, adopt the right diet and exercise so they can avoid having to seek treatment at the chamber.