Why are people with Long Covid coming to us?

Before we say why, let us give you some history. We are the Nottingham Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre, a small charity based in Colwick since we opened in 1984. We’re the only facility in Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire where people can come, without referral, to receive oxygen therapy in one of our two seven-seat barochambers.

 

Why barochambers and not hyperbaric chambers? 

Our chambers pressurise to 2ATA (or two atmospheres absolute but we’ll explain that shortly) so technically we’re not ‘hyper’. The large hyperbaric chambers used by the NHS and dive centres pressurise up to 4ATA. Essentially, they’re the same thing except ours are considered complementary or alternative therapy because we stop at 2ATA and we don’t have doctors on-site.

 

What is oxygen therapy? 

100% medical oxygen is delivered through a mask to the wearer while they’re sitting inside a pressurised chamber. The air that you breathe normally contains around 21% oxygen so simply breathing through our piped-up mask at normal pressure gives you five times the oxygen approximately. As I said earlier though, our chambers pressurise to two atmospheres so this doubles that five to ten. So, to summarise, an hour at twice atmospheric pressure gives you TEN TIMES the oxygen that you’d breathe in a ‘normal’ hour.

 

How does this help? 

Our bodies need oxygen to heal and survive. We all know that leaving the plaster off a graze to get the air to it helps the wound heal faster and the inside of your body is the same in many respects. When oxygen enters your lungs, it travels across capillaries & into the blood stream (1). This then travels to the heart to get pumped around your body. In simplistic terms, if part of your body is damaged, the tissues become inflamed and this reduces the amount of oxygen to the tissues. High dose oxygen therapy helps reduce the inflammation allowing the juiced-up blood through (2).

 

So why are people with Long Covid coming to us?

Scientists across the World are learning more about the damage that Covid-19 leaves in its wake each and every day. People are reporting symptoms of lung damage, brain fog, crippling fatigue among many other symptoms. In a nutshell, Covid-19 has really gone to town on their bodies, leaving a lot of tissue damage in its wake. High dose oxygen therapy, from one and a half atmospheres and up, is being used across the world but it’s not yet available in this country on prescription. We have the facilities to help and people aren’t waiting for the clinical trials to catch up. Commercial chambers charge around £200 per session but we are a small charity, without the overheads they face, so we can charge less than you’d pay for a massage.

 

How do people access our oxygen therapy? 

Firstly, send us an email stating when you had Covid-19 and whether you have any other conditions plus medication you are taking. After we’ve checked your medication for any possible contraindications, you’ll be invited to attend a trial session. This is free of charge (although donations are always welcome. We are a charity after all) and is to assess whether you’ll be okay inside our chambers. You’ll hear a brief talk on what’s about to happen and you’ll be fitted with a mask. We understand that many people are claustrophobic or can’t adjust their ears to the pressure (similar to being on an aeroplane) so this short session at 1.5 times normal pressure gives chance to try it without interrupting a full standard session. For this trial, you’ll be with us for around an hour - 15 minute talk, pressurising/depressurising time, half an hour at pressure. After your trial, you’ll be invited to join our Centre. Membership is £25 per year.

 

Frequently asked questions include:

 

What’s it like?   

It’s noisy with whooshing and clunking noises. Just like on a plane, when you’re at pressure, it’s boring.  

What can I take in?   

Your phone and a book.  

Can I nip to the toilet?   

No. It’s pressurised, just like an aeroplane.  

Can I suck sweets to help with my ears popping?   

No. We can’t get to you if you choke. 

Can I come out if I really can’t cope?   

Yes, of course. That is the point of a trial session.  

Is your Centre Covid safe? 

When the first lockdown happened, we refurbished our Centre to ensure it was safe. Out went the carpet tiles & fabric chairs and in came the washable non-slip flooring and antimicrobial chairs! Our chambers are UV sterilised between each session and we have powerful air filtration units with both HEPA & UV capabilities dotted around. All staff and volunteers are double jabbed and test before each shift. We have also reduced the number of places inside the chambers to allow a little room between occupants. 

When are you open? 

We are open Monday 10.00-18.00, Tuesday 08.00-14.00 and Thursday 10.00-18.00. 

What other conditions do you accept? 

Our core membership group is multiple sclerosis but we also see people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, cancer, arthritis, sports injuries, broken bones and many others.

Can I make a donation? 

As we subsidise the cost to everyone with a chronic health condition, all donations are gratefully received. You can donate here. Thank you. 

Can I volunteer with you?

Yes please! We currently need chamber operators, trustees and admin support. 

Email us and tell us about yourself.

What else do you do? 

We offer a free counselling service to members. We also have chair physio classes delivered by our neuro physio on Zoom. We have an exercise room with specialist equipment to help those with disabilities or health problems and we’re sourcing funding for an on-site physio to cut through waiting times. We will be restarting massage therapy soon too.

 

We hope to hear from you soon

 

Long Covid info sheet.pdf