Capital Chiropractic pioneering non-hospital option in Iowa for hyperbaric chamber therapy
An emerging health therapy that has gained popularity on the coasts over the past couple of years has made its way to Iowa. Known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, the treatments are now available in Des Moines.
Chris LoRang, a Des Moines chiropractor with a penchant for applying innovative approaches to holistic care, has launched a hyperbaric oxygen therapy clinic, Iowa HBOT, as an extension of Capital Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center. Since June 2021, he has been offering the therapy on an “off-label” basis for patients, for both health optimization and to help patients speed healing. It has also shown to be potentially beneficial in treating symptoms of “long COVID.”
The non-invasive therapy involves treatments in which patients spend between 60 and 90 minutes in a hyperbaric chamber in which the ambient air pressure is raised while the person lies in the chamber and breathes pure oxygen through a mask. Used as a therapeutic treatment, the increased air pressure allows for the oxygen to dissolve and saturate the blood plasma to provide what research studies indicate, with a regiment of repeated treatments, a broad variety of health benefits. Patients need a referral from their physician for the treatment.
“People are seeking it out, and people are really seeing the benefits of it,” LoRang said. “They’re reading the research, and they’re coming in to us and saying, ‘I would like to seek out this treatment at this pressure and this amount of visits, because the research shows that X number of visits produces this [particular] response.’”
Both UnityPoint Health and MercyOne offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy at their hospitals in Des Moines, but the treatments are limited to 14 specific conditions that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, such as wounds that won’t heal, crush injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning.
LoRang has found that the research supports the use of off-label hyperbaric therapy for some 140 different diagnoses, among them traumatic brain injuries, concussions, post-stroke care, dementia and Alzheimer’s. “Because of the physiologic mechanisms, we know it’s good for your skin, it’s good for your brain, it’s good for healing, it’s good for decreasing inflammation — all of those things happen.”
He incorporated the therapy into his practice after moving his office in April 2021 from an East Village office to its new location near the Des Moines Playhouse. LoRang, who has been a practicing chiropractor since 2013, last year received certification to administer the therapy through the International Board of Undersea Medicine; two of his clinic staff have also become certified. Iowa HBOT is associated with HBOT USA, a New Jersey-based national organization promoting the use of HBOT for many conditions.
LoRang began offering the treatments last summer using a soft-sided chamber, and in February added a hard-sided chamber that’s capable of providing the therapy at higher pressures. He said the only adverse effects have been a few patients experiencing claustrophobia and needing to end a session sooner, or having trouble equalizing the pressure in their ears.
He’s finding interest from both his regular chiropractic patients as well as people who have been waiting for the technology to become available locally.
“I have a patient who is coming here for post-surgical physical therapy rehab, but he also said, ‘I want to get better as fast as I can.’ From what we know in the research, we know that his body will have an increased ability to heal if he implements both physical therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy,” LoRang said.
“On the opposite end, we have people that come here only for HBOT, but they’re walking past the physical therapy and chiropractic rooms and maybe after six or seven visits, they say, ‘I’ve actually been looking for a chiropractor.’ So it’s a very nice symbiotic relationship.”
The soft-sided chamber represented about a $25,000 investment for the clinic, while the hard-sided chamber cost approximately $140,000. LoRang said one of the reasons he moved ahead with the investment in the hard-sided chamber was a patient who prepaid $20,000 for a regimen of health-optimization treatments using the chamber.
The cost of a single treatment in the hard-sided chamber, which provides a range of treatment pressures up to 2.2 atmospheres, is $250. The soft-sided chamber, which enables treatments at a lower pressure of 1.3 atmospheres, costs $125 per treatment. Treatments can be prepaid in packages of 10, 20, or more treatments at a discounted rate.