My little bro, Kenny, had to go to hospital yesterday. He broke his leg by falling off a trampoline. Given that he’s eighteen, I can’t help but find that a tiny bit amusing. Anyway, I went in to visit him this morning and he seemed alright about it – fortunately, he can see the funny side as well. We’d been hanging out for a while when his girlfriend dropped by, so I went for a wander around the hospital en route to get some coffee.

While I was doing that, I overheard some nurses talking about hyperbaric oxygen therapy. I’d vaguely heard of this before from a friend whose uncle had had something called therapeutic recompression following an intense scuba diving situation. I hadn’t paid too much attention at the time, but I remembered some of the keywords.

I’m assuming that the approach to hyperbaric medicine in Melbourne is similar to what’s here in London. Going by what I overheard, you can either go to a treatment facility – often a hospital – where hyperbaric oxygen chambers are provided, or rig up a device for home use. In both cases, you enter a full-body chamber in which you take in pure oxygen from high-pressure air. In certain conditions of lowered circulation, the increase in accessible oxygen created by this environment supports white blood cells’ ability to destroy bacteria, allows the growth of new blood vessels and reduces swelling in areas from which the normal flow of oxygen has been cut off.

I just ran a quick search, and can confirm that it’s possible to buy portable hyperbaric chambers in Melbourne. These are the type of chamber that patients can set up at home for personal use. Seems pretty futuristic. Speaking of which, when I got back to Kenny’s room with the coffees, both he and his girlfriend had their faces crammed into their respective phones and weren’t interacting at all. I could have been in the room the whole time for all they cared. Well, at least I learned something on my walk!