Cryotherapy uses the same principle as cold compressing with ice. When you have an injury, ice is wrapped in a towel and held against the injured area. As an improvement to this principle, cold baths can also be used. This involves the use of ice-cold water in a tub and the individual dipping themselves inside. This cold bath therapy is effective but can be excruciatingly painful because it requires you to stay in the ice-cold water for up to 15 minutes to achieve optimum results.
So how can you speed up the process? Lower the temperature further so it doesn’t take so long to achieve the same results. Ice baths can be as cool as -10oC, but can’t be lowered further before the water freezes into ice. To achieve temperatures below that, a different approach is needed.
However, it can be very difficult to cool an entire room. Just think about how much power your air conditioning unit requires to lower air temperature. All what is required is a small insulated chamber and a different method of lowering temperature. This is where the cryotherapy chamber comes in.
This is a small chamber which is large enough only for a person to move about. It also has a door through which the individual can enter. The chamber will be shut before the procedure begins.
How it works
To lower the temperature, a substance which has a low freezing point is required unlike water which freezes at 0oC. There are many such substances in the periodic table, but most may not be suitable for exposure. The use of nitrogen is a good choice because it has a low freezing point of -210oC. In addition, Nitrogen is found in plenty within the air and does not harm the body when controlled properly. Sometimes, compressed gas may be used instead of liquid nitrogen.
Once in the cryotherapy chamber, liquid nitrogen is pumped into it at a very low temperature (boiling point) which is below -195oC. It will then be filled like a white fog lowering the temperature of the entire chamber rapidly (below -110oC).
The recommended period of stay inside the cryotherapy chamber is between 2 to 3 minutes. Staying longer than that can cause damage to body tissues or would cause body systems to start shutting down.
How it looks
Cryotherapy chambers come in different shapes and sizes–some are rectangular and others are circular. The shape of the chamber does not influence its functionality. Rather, it is just a matter of preference and décor. However, these chambers come in 2 different forms:
Whole body cryotherapy chambers
These are entirely covered chambers which would make the individual invisible once entered. Since the individual is completely engulfed in the chamber, compressed gas is used instead of liquid nitrogen because nitrogen can cause nitrogen asphyxiation.
Partial body cryotherapy chambers
In these chambers, the individual’s head remains outside allowing them to breathe normally. Therefore, liquid nitrogen is preferred for these chambers as it provides a much lower temperature.
Where can you find a cryotherapy chamber
This form of therapy is still new and there are only a few institutions that have them. However, they are becoming common and you can probably find one in a wellness institute near you. The cost of each session ranges between $50 and $100.