COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) At first look, you may think it's something you'd find at NASA's headquarters or even in a "Star Wars" film. But there's someone inside the strange-looking device healing. It's a hyperbaric chamber. The concept has been around in the U.S. for more than a century but it is fairly new to Vermont.
"This changed my life and I wouldn't be here now if not for this," said Grace Johnstone of Hyperbaric Vermont.
Johnstone has been a chiropractor for 25 years, but five years ago she became the patient.
"I got a very, kind of a rare form of Lyme that goes right into cardiac and brain issues. So I got Lyme meningitis. And then it moved down into my spinal cord and I got what's called Lyme Radiculoneuritis," Johnstone explained.
The Hardwick woman went through treatments and medications, none of which were working. She couldn't walk, work or really function. That's when someone told her to try the hyperbaric chamber.
"Things were changing while I was in the chamber," she said.
She took out a loan, got one for her home and says a few months later, she was a different person. And she needed to share the treatment with her patients in East Hardwick.
"It's one of these things that in the U.S. is just vastly underutilized. It's safe, it's effective for so many things and because our first approach is usually through pharmaceuticals, we just don't get here," Johnstone said.
She has now opened her third location, this one is in Colchester. When you walk into the facility, you'll see a sign listing the most common health challenges Johnstone finds in her patients that she says the chamber can improve upon.
"In the rest of the world, the FDA has approved 60 to 120 different conditions. And those are the people we tend to see," she said.
Using basic physics, she says breathing the air we do every day almost fully oxygenates our red blood cells. An hour sitting in the chamber with higher oxygen pressures goes beyond just your cells.
"At that pressure, you're oxygenating the red blood cells but we're also helping the plasma, too, which means you're oxygenating all the fluid in the body," Johnstone said.
There are only a handful of facilities in the state with a chamber in the office.