Oceans of Opportunity

Oxygen Treatment Hoods | a Gift from the Sea

With over 20 years of diving behind me, the one absolute I’ve come to appreciate is that sea has and will continue to reveal many, many gifts for humanity. The ocean gives us all so much, whether immediately on our horizons or not – it truly is the lifeblood of our planet. The ocean provides a source for recreation, food, trade route for commerce, a source for natural resources, new medicines, carbon sequestration, oxygen, and…pressure.

It should be no surprise that divers are the best and most prolific voices for the ocean – when we are immersed within it, we have a very personal and intimate experience with parts of our planet that the vast majority still have not yet experienced. It’s not just seeing things – marine life, beautiful geology – but also experiencing immersion in the vastness that is the bulk of our planet. Being immersed, means being subject to pressure, and with that comes both challenges and triumphs.

Being subject to pressure, a diver’s tissues will absorb inert gasses. When resurfacing, these gasses are released. Done too quickly, we suffer decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’. Interestingly however, the treatment of decompression sickness often requires the re-application of pressure (to shrink bubbles back into solution) and then expedite their displacement with pure oxygen…oxygen goes in, inert gasses come out, and then we re-ascend inert gas free. That is the grossly simplified version, but speaks to the fact that pressure can be used to our advantage.

Enter Covid-19 and the resulting Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

The viral infection Covid-19 wreaks havoc on your lungs resulting in a pneumonia like set of symptoms with relatively rapid onset of significant respiratory distress. With intubation with costly mechanical ventilation being the unfortunate result for patient care – the outcomes are also not very good. In New York, rough numbers indicate that 80% of those intubated will not survive. Mechanical ventilation requires a degree of sedation along with an endotracheal tube down your throat, both for extended periods. The entire process is invasive, and with inherent risks.

NIPPV with Subsalve Oxygen Treatment Hood

In italy, as well as other locations, there has been some aggressive and proactive effort to treat Covid-19 with Non Invasive Positive Pressure Ventilation (NIPPV). There is our friend again – pressure. By enclosing the head in a bubble, a steady stream of air and/or oxygen can be supplied to create very slight positive pressure – only about 0.4 psi (20-50 cm H2O). This helps to inflate the lungs and promote oxygen exchange at the alveoli. So, without intubation, the lungs can be inflated, treated with oxygen, and the bonus is that the outlet gas flow is filtered with a viral trap to reduce viral aerosolization and hence mitigate additional risk exposure for healthcare workers. According to studies, this NIPPV can reduce required intubations by 20-40%. That means keeping a massive number of people off of ventilators, hence reducing mortality from Covid-19 in a big way.

Just a few short weeks ago, a few of us like minded divers here in the Ocean State recognized the potential and got in the game. I teamed up with Subsalve USA to push the Subsalve Oxygen Treatment Hood. With well recognized capabilities in performance manufacturing of inflatables, Subsalve has the capacity to meet current and projected demands for this emerging treatment technology. And of course, I am forever enthused by innovative life support development and its utility in all sorts of applications. Exciting times.

The author, Michael Lombardi, during a test run at Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island.

In close, for now, as a fellow citizen of the sea – help us help. NIPPV is relatively new here in the US, and given its simplicity it could be a huge game changer in addressing the global health crisis soon to emerge in developing countries. As divers, we can all do our part to bring the gifts from the sea to everyone in need, and in doing that help raise a greater global appreciation of our most precious resource – our Blue Planet.

Help us bring the gifts from the sea to the world to stop Covid-19: www.oxygentreatmenthoods.com

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