The Environics, Inc. Post

Hypoxia Study - Use of the ROBD2 with Civilians

Posted by Dr. Rachel Stansel on Mon, Sep 12, 2011 @ 09:46 AM

Several months ago, I shared some information about the effects of hypoxia.  I included a video, which showed not only how hypoxia may present itself, but how the hypoxic person may be oblivious to the effects.  I also shared information regarding the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD2), a system manufactured solely by Environics under a Navy patent, and how this system is used in military training to allow practical training with lower expense.  You can review these articles here and here.

To refresh your memory, hypoxia is a condition brought on due to inadequate oxygen and the symptoms can include any combination of the following symptoms: dizziness, tingling in the skin, headache, racing heart, changes in vision, and bluish tint to the lips. Military personnel are not the only people who experience hypoxic conditions though.  In a study presented at the 2010 ASMA conference, researchers examined the use of the ROBD2 on a sample group of 36 civilians ("The Use of the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD) in a General Civilian Sample, Pulse Oximetry Means and Ranges," a presentation of research by Leonard A. Temme, Ph.D. and David L. Still, O.D., Ph.D. of U. S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Dennis Reeves, Ph.D., and Rebecca Browning, B.S. of Clinvest, Banyan Group, Inc.; full presentation available here). 

Civilians who are most likely to experience hypoxia include those flying in private or commercial aircraft, undergoing aviation training, using hypoxia training strategies for athletic improvements and Travel/tourism.

The researchers found that:

•  Pulse rate increased with ROBD simulated altitude
•  % blood oxygen between-subject variability increases with ROBD
simulated altitude
•  Pulse rate between-subject variability unaffected by ROBD simulated
•  BMI positively correlated with pulse rate @ all altitudes
•  BMI inversely correlated with %O2 at 8,000 and 12,000 ft

In summary, the study found that the ROBD2 could successfully be used for civilian training and "does what it says it does."  The only alteration made was to replace the military style respirator with a non-military equivalent. 


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Tags: Environics Inc, gas mixing, Hypoxia, ROBD, hypoxia training

Discussions of Hypoxia and the ROBD2 at the ASMA Show!

Posted by Dr. Rachel Stansel on Wed, May 11, 2011 @ 08:50 AM


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Tags: Environics Inc, Hypoxia, ROBD, pilot training, Meetings

Previewing the Future at the ASMA Show!

Posted by Dr. Rachel Stansel on Mon, May 09, 2011 @ 12:34 PM

This week, we are excited to meet with customers and friends, new and old, at the Aerospace Medical Assoc. Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.  We'll be sharing some exciting technology that is in the pipeline and giving attendees a chance to interact with our ROBD2 (reduced oxygen breathing device) systems.  Stop by Booth 307 to see for yourself!!

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Tags: Environics Inc, Hypoxia, ROBD, pilot training

Pilot Hypoxia Training Using a Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device 2

Posted by Dr. Rachel Stansel on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 @ 10:20 AM

Reduce oxygen or hypoxia training is conducted in a number of different ways.  Traditionally, altitude chambers were used.  Pilots were placed in the chambers and asked to do minor tasks, such as identify playing cards or play pat-a-cake with another subject.  Oxygen levels were decreased, and pilots were directed to switch on their supplemental oxygen reserves when needed.  Some drawbacks to these chambers are:

  • they are expensive to build and maintain

  • they do not mimic the activities of the pilots (just the condition itself)

  • they use standard air composition at reduced barometric pressures versus reduced oxygen

  • there are added medical risks to the subjects due to the pressure changes.

Another training method, developed by the US Navy, is a Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD). This system involves the use of gas mixers, which reduce the relative percent of oxygen in the air breathed.  While there are still medical risks associate with the training due to the hypoxic conditions, these newer systems have several advantages.  These include:

  • they are less expensive

  • they are portable and can be used in the field.  Read the recent story by  Tech. Sgt. Randy Redman for DVIDS about the use of the ROBD by the US Navy to train Iraqi Air Force pilots.

  • they are used in combination with flight simulators to mimic the activities of the pilots

  • they are less predictable since the oxygen levels can be changed without pilot knowledge, making the pilot rely on their own symptoms to judge their level of hypoxia

  • there are fewer medical risks

To learn more about Hypoxia training using the ROBD based system, watch this video or click here.

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Tags: Gas Flow, Hypoxia, ROBD, pilot training, hypoxia training, Iraqi air force

Effects of Hypoxia on Pilots at High Altitudes

Posted by Dr. Rachel Stansel on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 10:48 AM

Hypoxia is a condition brought on due to inadequate oxygen and it can have dire consequences.  Pilots who fly at high altitudes are at risk of becoming hypoxic, and it is critical that they are properly trained on how to recognize the earliest symptoms both in themselves and in others.  In 2005, Helios flight 522, bound for Athens, Greece, crashed killing all 121 people on board.  Investigators determined that the cabin never pressurised during the ascent to 35,000 feet, the crew was incapacitated by hypoxia preventing them from flying to lower altitudes and attempting a landing. 

When the body is deprived or starved for oxygen due to altitude, the impairment can prevent the pilot from recognizing the hypoxia and from reacting properly.  The below video shows the serious effect of hypoxia on a pilot undergoing training in an altitude chamber.

The initial symptoms include a general dulling of the senses, clumsiness or drowsiness.  Some compare the feeling to being slightly intoxicated. 

Without suplemental oxygen or flying to lower altitudes, the symptoms then worsen.  Pilots may suffer from any combination of the following symptoms:

  • dizzyiness

  • tingling in the skin

  • headache.

  • racing heart

  • changes in vision

  • bluish tint to the lips. 

Due to the effect on the brain, however, the pilot may be completely unaware that they are having any problems.

Next week, I'll review the way that pilots are trained to recognize and respond to hypoxia using either an altitude chamber or a reduced oxygen breathing device (ROBD) system.

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Tags: Gas Flow, Hypoxia, ROBD