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Hyperbaric oxygen treatment, which involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised room or tube, is growing in popularity around the world as a tool for healing.
The air pressure in the chamber is increased to three times higher than normal which advocates claim helps fight bacteria and stimulates the release of growth factors and stem cells.
Many suffering from decompression sickness, a hazard of scuba diving, infections, or dangerous bubbles of air in blood vessels, as well as wounds that won’t heal as a result of diabetes or radiation, often benefit from this treatment.
The therapy is also popular with professional sports stars to help them recover faster from injuries. The parents of autistic children also claim to have noticed an improvement in mobility and speech when their youngsters have undergone sessions.
A chamber is housed at the Hospitalia by Yara in Budaiya under the supervision of senior hyperbaric medicine specialist Dr Dusko Micevic who has more than 30 years medical experience in the field.
Reporter Mai Al Khatib-Camille stepped into the capsule to sample the procedure.
Although I do not have any of the earlier mentioned ailments, Yara Jameel Salman, the founder of the medical centre, invited me to put the chamber to the test.
In preparation for my oxygen therapy, I was told not to wear any make-up, deodorant, or jewellery. It is advised not to wear any petroleum-based products or perfume either.
The hospital is located in Garden Plaza. The stylish facility was designed by Argentinian architect Felipe Yofre.
Before starting my treatment in the futuristic pod, Jayne Green, the facility’s customer relations manager, gave me a tour of the hospital, before settling down to discuss Hospitalia by Yara in its café called IVY.
Jayne said: “Everything here is green, high-tech and modern, bringing Western standards to Bahrain since so many people travel to receive a certain level of care.
“We provide five-star VIP services alongside professional medical care with experienced top doctors.
“Our aim is for people to stop dreading going to the hospital. It is not something to be afraid of, especially when your well-being is concerned.
“From the moment people walk in, we will ensure that they feel fantastic, comfortable and at ease. We have a team of professionals covering various sectors and our only concern is making sure that each and every patient feels like star.
“The centre offers a VIP section with a separate entrance, a concierge service and valet, dermatology, dentistry, paediatric and general medicine. Our aim is to promote and market health tourism targeting the elite society from all over the GCC.”
The dermatology department will feature laser, Botox, fillers, microdermabrasion and other beauty techniques. Other services include tanning and slimming treatments for men and women.
The dental services offers whitening, veneers and braces as well as general medicine and paediatric care with qualified consultants.
The centre also hosts the first robotic pharmacy in the region and a Cryotherapy Unit for men and women. Cryotherapy is used to treat a variety of benign and malignant tissue damage, medically called lesions.
According to Jayne, the hospital is still in the soft opening stage. However, the hyperbaric chamber is already proving a popular attraction.
Upon entering the treatment room I was greeted by Dr Dusko and nurse Christine.
The good doctor explained that during the therapy, the increased air pressure would create a temporary feeling of fullness in my ears, similar to what I might experience in an aeroplane or at a high elevation.
He then proceeded to show me how to relieve that feeling by chewing, yawning and swallowing for the first 10 minutes of my session. He also explained that it was important to remain calm, that there was nothing to fear and to simply relax.
Truth be told, I was nervous, especially as I’m slightly claustrophobic and didn’t know how I’d react to being placed in a large tube. Dr Dusko quickly put my mind at ease and showed me the fun feature of the giant clear capsule instead … a TV with numerous channels.
Patients can plug a USB into the screen too to watch whatever movie or show they want in order to pass the time. Since this was going to be my first session, the doctor recommended an hour.
After signing the disclaimer form, I traded in my corporate clothes for a fluffy white robe. The doctor and Christine then helped me up onto the bed that slides into the pod of healing.
The nurse tucked me under a warm quilt as the doctor strapped a ‘Ground Strip’ bracelet around my wrist. He explained that I might feel warm at one point and then a little cold but nothing out of the ordinary.
Before sliding the bed back into the capsule he explained that the team would communicate with me through a phone attached to the tube.I could hear the television in the capsule and it would only be interrupted when they picked up the phone to talk to me.
I settled down to a musical mixture of golden oldies and current chart hits.
I moved into the tube feet first as the doctor and nurse pulled up their chairs and sat by the pod to monitor my well-being. The doctor said: “Mai, it’s time to fly.”
I then started to chew, yawn and swallow as directed until he gave me the green light that everything was balanced and I could either sleep or enjoy the music.
Every few minutes Dr Dusko checked on me to make sure I felt comfortable and I really did. There was no feeling of claustrophobia at all. I even took a nap.
Just before it was time to ‘land’ I was woken up from my beauty sleep to repeat my chewing regiment to again avoid discomfort in my ears.
After I was pulled out of the tube, I was told to take it slow while getting off the bed as I might feel a little light-headed.
Within a few minutes I was heading back to work, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. In fact, I was so wide awake from the experience that I didn’t end up falling asleep till 3am. Maybe I had too much oxygen!
A 70-minute session can be booked for BD100 and a 90-minute session for BD115. After five sessions patients receive a 25 per cent discount.
For a free consultation, available for a limited period, and more details on services, contact 17811111 or follow them on Instagram at hospitaliabyyara