HBOT is an exhibition by biomedical materials science students Nathania Gohar and Sarah Spooner exploring the use of hyperbaric oxygen for wound healing. They developed the exhibition in response to one of the second year modules: Wound Healing and the Immune Response.

Nathania and Sarah created a fun visual display which explains the chronic wound environment and effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) on wound healing using a Star Wars analogy.

Explanation of Chronic Wound Environment
The analogy compares the wound environment to a rebel base (representing the skin) that is attacked by storm troopers (microbes/physical trauma) through models depicting the following scenes:

  1. Rebel base becomes damaged from enemy assault and debris is scattered at site of battle = Skin becomes damaged due to trauma and/or infection.
    Some storm troopers infiltrate the rebel base = wound has become infected by pathogens e.g., S. aureus and P. aeruginosa.
  2. Damage occurs to the pathways leading to the base = Blood vessels become damaged therefore blood flow to wound site is disrupted leading to low amount of oxygen in the tissues at the site of injury (hypoxia).
  3. In the confusion of the battle too many orders (represented by giving orders on walkie talkies) are given to recruit more soldiers (immune system cells-leukocytes). This represents chronic inflammation where there is prolonged presence of signals which activate immune system cells called cytokines (IL-1, 6 and TNFα).

Explanation of the Effect of HBOT on Wound Healing
Continuing with the Star Wars analogy the anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and angiogenic effects of HBOT and how they enhance wound healing is explained.

  1. In hypoxic environments immune system cells such as neutrophils are unable to produce weaponry to destroy the invading pathogens called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Storm troopers represent invading pathogens, and the rebel soldiers represent the ROS whose production is induced due to HBOT.
  2. HBOT is thought to decrease the levels of signals released from the cells which promote inflammation (pro-inflammatory cytokines) and increase the production of growth factors and signals which promote wound healing (e.g., IL-10). This is represented as a change from orders calling in more rebel fighters (pro-inflammatory cytokines recruiting immune system cells-leukocytes) to calling in re-enforcements to help rebuild and fortify the base now that threat has been neutralised.
  3. HBOT is thought to induce angiogenesis to replace damaged blood vessels and meet the increased demand for O2 at the wound site during wound healing. It is believed that HBOT does this by increasing the production of signals which promote the formation of new blood vessels called growth factors and by increasing the number of cells (endothelial progenitor cells) to form the new blood vessels. This is represented by new pathways being built to the base by figures representing growth factors, endothelial progenitor cells and fibroblasts (O2 dependant collagen matrix formation).