Throughout the history of hyperbaric therapy animals have routinely been treated in hyperbaric chambers for the purpose of research only. In most instances animal subjects were used to study the effects of the hyperbaric environment on various body systems, as a prelude to treat certain conditions in human patients. Hyperbaric chamber operations for humans have long been found in military, research, and academic facilities. The early 2000's saw an emergence of interest from some in the veterinary field, in utilizing hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an adjunct to traditional medical and surgical treatments in animals. Prior to this, several practitioners had been using hyperbaric therapy in small animal facilities; however, recognition in the veterinary field was initiated by the development of a large animal hyperbaric chamber. Hyperbaric chambers have since been placed in many veterinary practices, rehabilitation facilities, and educational institutions in multiple countries. Initially most caseloads were client driven with the science behind the use of hyperbaric therapy in horses coming from the treatment of human patients. Clinical use of hyperbaric therapy in horses is yet to be scientifically proven by quality research and is currently mostly anecdotal and results based. There is some research data in laboratory animals to support its efficacy in small animals and this data is has been used to develop treatment protocols for many animal species. Although the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the veterinary field is still in its infancy, tens of thousands of treatments have been conducted with very successful outcomes. This "on the job" research has allowed the pioneers in the veterinary hyperbaric field to develop successful treatment protocols, safety standards and operational guidelines for chamber technicians.
In the early 2000's a small nucleus of interested people, passionate about the use of veterinary hyperbaric medicine, formed the Veterinary Hyperbaric Medicine Society (VHMS). The VHMS recognized a need to provide quality training for veterinarians and veterinary technicians in hyperbaric medicine, chamber safety and chamber operation, specific to animal species. This formal training is critical to providing successful hyperbaric treatment of animal patients and for ensuring the safe operation of animal chambers.
A number of hyperbaric medicine training courses have been developed at various facilities across the country. These courses address indications, dosing, potential complications, side effects, and safety. To date, interested veterinary personnel have utilized these training courses designed for human medical professionals. The National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology has in place an approval process for these courses. Those who successfully complete an approved training course in hyperbaric technology, and have met the requirements of a defined preceptorship period at an approved facility will become eligible to take the new Certified Hyperbaric Technologist – Veterinary (CHT-V) examination.
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Updated February 12, 2020