Altitude Chambers are also known as hypobaric chamber as it is related to low oxygen (hypoxia) and low ambient air pressure (hypobaria) conditions. It imitates the high altitude (>3500m) condition by lowering down the oxygen levels and pressure inside the enclosed chamber (see an image of altitude chamber on Envisys Technologies, thus its main aim is to create hypoxic environment artificially. It checks the effect of this hypoxic environment on the human body and its physiological responses such as- heart rate, oxygen saturation and blood pressure.
The participant breathes 100% oxygen from an oxygen mask or aid before entering to the hypoxic situation. Inside the altitude chamber, atmospheric pressure is reduced to create high altitude condition. Then oxygen mask is removed to experience the symptoms of hypoxia. There are safety observers to keep an eye on participant inside the chamber during the time of unconsciousness. An outside observer, monitor participant conditions like- alertness, eye movement through EEG and EOG techniques.
Participant is asked to perform several tasks like writing their name, doing easy calculations etc. If the completion of a task is taking a longer time than usual then it is considered as a sign of unconsciousness and oxygen mask or aid is again replaced.
There are different characteristics of hypoxia whose range is based on the percentage of oxygen saturation. It has four stages and at each stage, hypoxia symptoms vary. The stages are divided on the basis of various altitudes. It is described as-
Indifferent stage (0-10 feet;98-90% O2 saturation)-decrease in night vision.
Compensatory stage (10-15 feet;89-80% O2 saturation)-drowsiness, poor judgement, impaired coordination.
Disturbance stage (15-20 feet;79-70% O2 saturation)- impaired flight control, impaired handwriting, impaired speech, intellectual function, decreased sensation to pain.
Critical stage (20-25 feet;69-60%)-circulatory failure, CNS failure, convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, death.
Purpose Of Altitude Chambers
The main purpose of Altitude Chamber is to know the hypoxic symptoms of subjects which can be any of these- altitude decompression sickness, joint pain, cough, and dyspnea or above-mentioned hypoxic characteristics.
It is to enhance the physical performance mainly in sports. By experiencing a hypoxic environment, the production of red blood cells increases along with more oxygen transport which helps in better performance.
It is beneficial to know the effect of hypoxic condition on one’s body because the effect of this condition varies from person to person and it will be helpful in preventing lives in an emergency situation after knowing the aftermath and also how the person can acclimatize oneself in the high altitude condition.
- Altitude Chambers are useful in following fields-
- Aerospace- aerospace engineers
- High Altitude Research and Training- military and army
- Aviators-pilots and crew members
- Athletics- athletes
- Health clubs- gym goers for hypoxic exercise
Altitude Chambers by Envisys Technologies creates an unreal condition by copying the effect of high altitude condition of air pressure, humidity and temperature so efficiently that it is very useful in different fields of work and profession for knowing the hypoxic symptoms. Trained and skilled personnel are required to perform the test in an altitude chamber as a minute mistake can turn the situation into life and death.