Many people use oxygen therapy outside of the hospital/nursing home setting. It is no longer unusual to see people going about their business with the aid of a portable oxygen delivery system. People with lung disease or other conditions that affect breathing understand that oxygen therapy is essential to their well-being. Some people use oxygen only while only while exercising, others while sleeping, and still others need it continuously.
It wasn’t too long ago that being on oxygen meant that life as you knew it was over. Tanks were heavy and activities were limited by the length of the tubing that stretched from tank to nose. You probably remember huge green cylinders of oxygen that were so heavy that you needed a dolly to move them. It was a great day when oxygen concentrators and portable oxygen tanks came into being. The smaller green oxygen cylinders were more convenient, but they were still heavy to carry around, and they would run out of gas long before you were ready. Switching to a full tank generally required a wrench and considerable hand strength, so not exactly a piece of cake.
Oxygen concentrators were much better. They meant that you didn’t have to order and deal with the large green cylinders. However earlier concentrators were still large and unwieldy. Tubing extensions allowed more freedom when it came to activities of daily living, but as a caregiver I always worried that the person using oxygen would trip over the lengthy tubing and fall. Thankfully, over the last decade there have been a number of advances when it comes to home oxygen technologies. The most obvious difference is the size and the weight, and now the portable concentrators. Last week I saw ad in the Sunday supplement of our local newspaper. The ad was for an InogenOne Portable Oxygen Concentrator (www.inogenone.com) and all I could say was “wow, what a breakthrough.” That doesn’t mean that it and other portable concentrators haven’t been around for awhile, but it was new to me and I was impressed. A concentrator that is both light weight and compact sounds great. If you are not familiar with concentrators you should know that they draw oxygen directly from room air and do not use oxygen cylinders. The portable concentrator are well suited to ambulation and travel and can be plugged into a DC car charger socket, ordinary household AC electricity outlets or be battery operated.
The objective of portable oxygen facilitators is to enable people to leave their homes for longer periods of time, and to help them through their activities of daily living. Do you use a portable oxygen delivery system? Please share your story and let us know how it has improved your quality of life.