The Centro Médico Hiperbárico Estepona opened in summer this year, offering a brand new lease on life to residents and visitors to the Costa del Sol. Marisa Cutillas enlightens readers on how inhaling pure Oxygen can help you feel like you’re walking on Cloud Nine…

Mention ‘hyperbaric Oxygen chamber’ and the image of the King of Pop, Michael Jackon, probably pops up in your head. The singer, way ahead of his time in many ways, was aware of the most lauded health trends and was said to energise himself before performances by getting a bit of R ‘n’ R in his very own chamber at home.

Although we normal folk can’t afford our own hyperbaric set-up, the good news is, we don’t need to; the Centro Médico Hiperbárico in Estepona was recently launched in an effort to provide controlled, supervised Oxygen therapy to everyone from athletes seeking to perform at maximum potential to patients suffering from a painful infection of the bones known as osteomyelitis.

At the Centre, treatments are supervised by Oxygen Therapy specialist, Dr. Rafael Sánchez, who notes that “Oxygen therapy has been big in Europe for many years. It is currently used in countless hospitals, though the Centre is the first of its kind on the Coast.”

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a medical treatment which promotes the healing process. It involves providing 100 per cent Oxygen to a person, who is positioned inside a total body chamber. Normally, the blood brings Oxygen to the body via the red blood cells.

Through this therapy, Oxygen is dissolved directly into the lymph, bone, plasma, central nervous system and other fluids, so that damaged tissues can recover and heal more efficiently. Inflammation is reduced and white cells become more capacitated to fight bacteria; moreover, new blood vessels can grow more quickly in damaged areas.

In patients with brain injuries, Oxygen can stimulate dormant tissue and help them return to normal function. Says Dr. Sánchez, “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy works at a cellular level, by resetting the mitochondrial (energy) system within cells.” In young children, cognitive function can be greatly improved. The treatment is simple and has no negative side-effects.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Used For?

Some common conditions/areas which can be improved/aided by this therapy include:
-Diabetic skin and feet
-Bone infections
-Effects of radiotherapy
-Neurological problems
-Ischaemic stroke in newborns
-Effects caused by a heart attack
-Cerebral hypoxia
-Air or gas embolism
-Soft tissue infection
-Thermal burns
-Traumatic brain injury
-Recovery from plastic surgery
-Lyme disease
-Sports performance

What Happens During the Treatment?

During my recent visit to the Centro Hiperbárico, Dr. Sánchez began by asking me a few questions (regarding my state of health, medication, etc.) and checked my heart and blood pressure.

After he gave me the all-clear, Jesús, the therapist, gave me a cotton pyjama to change into, and asked me to lie on a comfy bed, which he then slid into the impressive looking, clear chamber. He asked me whether I preferred to listen to music or watch TV; I chose the latter. He led me through every step of the way, explaining that in the first five minutes, the sensation is similar to when a plane is descending (in terms of pressure).

He instructed me to swallow saliva, yawn or blow outwards while holding my nose, as I would normally do when on a plane. The ear pressure soon dissipated and I was invited to freely move about within the chamber (or even try a few yoga stretches). Once in a while, Jesús would pick up a phone and ask me if I was doing well (the answer was always a resounding ‘yes’).

I lay within the chamber for about an hour, feeling more relaxed by the minute. I almost fell asleep, yet once the treatment was over, I felt wonderfully energised. No wonder many Marbellís de-stress by visiting the centre once a week.

Ultimately, hyperbaric Oxygen therapy is for everyone; keen athletes (the therapy reduces injury recovery time by around 40 per cent), children and adults of all ages; the therapy has powerful anti-ageing effects and can even help insomniacs catch up on some zzzs.

Apparently, most Fortune 500 companies on Wall Street have their own hyperbaric chambers, where executives channel their most creative thoughts before taking a decision at an important meeting. Madonna, Fidel Castro and top level football players are also in on the therapy; aren’t you tempted to inhale the most life-giving element in the world?

Words Marisa Cutillas Photography Kevin Horn

Avenida España 242, Estepona. Tel: 952 806 796