A Local Hyperbaric Chamber Is Setting Records and Changing Lives
You’ve probably never heard of the guy (an Eagle local) who set a Guinness World Record in 2014 for between-the-legs bowling by rolling a 280 at the Back Bowl. Not to be outdone, Jonathan Rotella has petitioned the international arbiter to anoint a more serious endeavor: aside from being the highest such facility in the United States, he believes the hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) clinic he opened over the summer in Cordillera set a world record for the highest HBOT treatment by taking an NHL player from the Dallas Stars, who was undergoing postsurgical intervention, from ambient pressure at 8,140 feet to the equivalent pressure at 80 feet below sea level.
“He was our first patient, and he set a world record at this altitude,” says Rotella, CEO of NexGen Hyperbaric (nexgenhyperbaric.com), which operates a network of HBOT clinics around the country using a technology developed to treat divers suffering from decompression sickness to promote wound healing, both physical and mental. “This is the only hyperbaric chamber of its kind—it was specifically designed for this altitude.We believed in this market so much, we decided to put our money where our mouth is and do the buildout here.”
“Here” being All Points North Lodge (apnlodge.com), an upscale addiction treatment center that opened in 2019 in the former Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, a gated, grand-chateau-style, 77,000-square-foot retreat on 30 acres perched atop a ridge high above Edwards. To complement the many amenities at the facility, after acquiring a major equity stake in APN, Rotella worked with local contractors to outfit a suite to house one of his company’s futuristic HBOT pods.
While a steady stream of professional athletes come here to speed recovery from orthopedic surgeries, Rotella expects the machine will serve as a much more versatile therapeutic asset for patients at the facility and in the community. Physicians at Englewood’s Swedish Hospital, home to NexGen’s largest HBOT clinic, have been using the therapy to treat not just mountain ailments like frostbite and altitude sickness, but also diabetics with chronic nonhealing wounds, victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, cancer patients with radiation injuries, and increasingly Covid-19 patients struggling to breathe.
Although FDA approval for additional uses is pending, Rotella notes, HBOT also shows promise for treating traumatic brain injury, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction.
“Among physicians who have published white papers, there’s a belief that it works with the microvasculature in the soft tissue of the brain and will wake up certain areas that have been starved of oxygen,” he explains.
Consider the experience of Bob Nutscher, an All Points North patient lounging on a leather couch in the rehab center’s lobby one morning in November.
“When I started to get better was when I hit the hyperbarics,” says Nutscher, a mortgage banker from Merced, Calif. “The first time I did it, I slept better. After 20 treatments, it took away my PTSD, and I started to come off all of my anti-depression medication. By my 40th treatment, I had my energy back, and it took a good chunk of my depression away.... This is like no other machine.”
Until Guinness makes it official, you’ll have to take his word for it.