What Do Patients Look For In Portable Oxygen Concentrators
Oxygen Therapy and First Impressions.
One of the first things that anyone who has been diagnosed with insufficient oxygen and then prescribed with long term oxygen therapy thinks and worries about, is how this will affect their life.
How will they be able to move about?
How will they be able to work?
How will they be able to get out of the house?
What about travel?
This is a perfectly normal reaction. And yes it is a difficult time. A lot of adjustments have to be made. Many people find it overwhelming and even when they listen to others who have been there before and now lead perfectly productive lives, it still seems too much and the end of life as they know it. It is very depressing to say the least.
Perhaps one of the greatest adjustments has to do with what we perceive life to be - there is no one answer for this, but for these cases a major point is mobility and being able to move.
Most people take moving about for granted and especially in this day and age characterized by immense innovations and where aside from electronic communications, traveling short and long distances is such a natural part of life we can’t really imagine a time where we were restricted by real horse power or wind power to cross an ocean.
So What Do Users Want In A Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
Aside from the obvious “deliver oxygen as needed” there are three basic things a patient wants in a portable oxygen concentrator. Before telling you about them it is interesting to note that portable oxygen concentrators have been designed with these in mind and this is perhaps the reason for their general acceptance and why you see so many of them in public places.
The 3 things users want in their portable concentrators.
- Durability: That when battery powered they go on and on and on and … In other words that batteries last for days not hours. The next models could perhaps go for 12 hours, then 16 and so on.
- Size: Small is beautiful. Make them mobile, handy and tiny.
- Weight: Very light weight – not the 17 lbs units, that are great by the way, but look for new designs that can weigh as little as 7 or 5 or even 3 lbs.
One of the design constraints of machines is that somewhere a long the line you have to compromise. If you want speed in an airplane then weight, reflected perhaps as size or range (fuel is heavy), will be limited. For concentrators if you want an extremely light weight unit, then you will surely have to compromise on your batteries – until new the new designs appear.
At present you can find very good portable oxygen concentrators and things will get even better in the not too distant future.
The Advent Of Portable Oxygen Concentrators
I think it was Jacques Cousteau who invented the scuba diving tanks more than fifty years ago. (For those who never heard of him, he was a Frenchman who traveled the oceans on his ship the Calypso and presented the world with one of the first series of sea documentaries for television – one of my heroes). Well having a tank strapped to your back while swimming under water is one thing, walking about with one is quite another. Obviously this is an exaggeration but you get the idea.
Anyway oxygen tanks and cylinders (liquid oxygen and compressed oxygen) were the norm till around 2002 when portable oxygen concentrators were introduced. Since then things have changed considerably with new designs that have brought greater mobility to thousands of people. The major difference between oxygen concentrators and oxygen tanks is that concentrators extract oxygen from the surrounding air, concentrate it and deliver it to the patient. Tanks on the other hand hold oxygen, either compressed or in liquid form and this means that oxygen is stored in one way or another in a container. The obvious math's here is that the more oxygen that is stored the bigger the container and therefore heavier and more cumbersome to maneuver.
A machine that takes oxygen from the surrounding air and delivers it in a concentrated form doesn’t need to store it, so design and development can potentially makes these machines highly efficient and very small. (So long as a power source is available).