A breath of fresh air

You don’t enter the hyperbaric oxygen therapy business casually — the considerable cost of the medical-grade equipment ensures that.

O2XY-Wellness owner and operator Al Evans lies down in a Hyperbaric chamber at his location in Red Deer.

O2XY-Wellness owner and operator Al Evans lies down in a Hyperbaric chamber at his location in Red Deer.

You don’t enter the hyperbaric oxygen therapy business casually — the considerable cost of the medical-grade equipment ensures that.

Al Evans, who along with his business and “life” partner Chris Brown recently began offering high-pressure, oxygen-rich treatments to Central Albertans, doesn’t want to disclose what they paid for their chamber.

“Just put it as a large capital investment.”

Their business, 02xy — Wellness, opened in Burnt Lake Business Park last fall. But its services were previously limited to sleep apnea testing and treatment, which is Evans’ specialty as a long-time respiratory therapist.

In addition to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, it now also offers training in meditation — with Brown a certified instructor of primordial sound meditation, as well as a registered nurse.

“We understand both the medical side and the holistic side of what we’re doing,” said Evans of 02xy — Wellness’s diverse offerings.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is recognized as an effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions. Thirteen are covered by Alberta Health Care, including carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation, acute trauma, burns, certain types of wounds, anemia and necrotizing tissue infections.

But the therapy has been shown to help a long list of other problems: autism, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, asthma, arthritis and epilepsy, among others.

“Any stroke, concussion, brain injury — the results are just phenomenal,” said Evans, who is certified in hyperbaric medicine.

Hyperbaric chambers are pressurized and contain a high concentration of oxygen. Whereas a person might almost double the oxygen content in their blood by breathing in pure oxygen, they can increase it by nearly 10-fold in a hyperbaric chamber, said Evans.

“Once we put you under pressure we can dissolve a bunch of oxygen right into your blood,” he explained, adding that hemoglobin capacity is no longer a limitation.

The higher concentration of oxygen in the body is what promotes the health benefits.

“It just heals everything much quicker.”

Gordon Ward is a big proponent of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The Red Deer resident is president of the Canadian Association of Hyperbarics and director of Canadian Hyperbarics, which operates five chambers, including one in Red Deer.

A former international engineering consultant, Ward became an advocate of hyperbaric oxygen therapy after he saw how it benefited his son, who had cerebral palsy.

He’s frustrated that hyperbaric oxygen therapy isn’t publicly insured for more conditions, and that more doctors don’t recommend it to their patients.

“It’s drastically under-used in this province,” he said, pointing to diabetic food ulcers and neural conditions as two severe health problems that could be successfully treated with the therapy.

“My advocacy of this is that it should be covered by health insurance, but until such time as it is, I’ll have to make it available privately.”

Ward said he even offered Evans and Brown advice for their clinic because he believes so strongly in hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“I would like to see the advancement of the profession. These guys aren’t my competitors.

“If hyperbarics were to flourish, and doctors used it and patients’ advocacy were more proactive, I don’t think we could actually keep up.”

Evans agreed that there’s a lack of awareness about the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and many people suffer needlessly as a result.

“It’s very, very low.”

Additional information about 02xy — Wellness and Canadian Hyperbarics can be found on their websites at www.o2xy-wellness.com and www.canadianhyperbarics.com respectively.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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