Inflatable products need not be oversized to have a big impact; small can be mighty, especially when it comes to inflatables designed to provide relief on an individual basis, such as those popping up in wellness centers, hospitals, nursing homes and even on clothing racks and in closets. Here’s a quick overview of three companies offering more personal-sized health care and treatment inflatables.
OxyHealth LLC (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.)
This company manufactures four portable inflatable chambers used to provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which saturates the blood plasma with more oxygen, resulting in increased cellular energy, says Hans Holborn, marketing manager. The chambers are used to speed healing and to help ready the body for surgery. Found in wellness centers, clinics and doctors’ offices, they can also be purchased by individuals, although it requires a doctor’s prescription.
They’re constructed from a double-sided, 44-ounce urethane-coated polyester; the windows are made from Lexan®, a strong, transparent material. The chambers can inflate (with an air compressor) in as little as 15 minutes. Deflated, they’re folded up and stored in their own tote bags, about the size of a suitcase. The 17-year-old company’s first and smallest chamber was the Solace 210. Inflated, it measures 93 inches long, 22 inches in diameter and 71 inches in circumference. Market interest was such that OxyHealth added larger sizes, currently capping off with the Quamvis 320, which is 93 inches long, 33 inches in diameter and 109 inches in circumference (inflated). (A non-inflatable, steel chamber unit is also available.) Demand for these products is strong, says Holborn.
“More doctors are adding these chambers to their treatment options,” he says. “We currently have over 12,000 of our units in use worldwide. Four million treatments, if not more, are administered every year.”
Hivix Co. Ltd. (Mizuho-city, Gifu, Japan)
The company started in the 1950s making vinyl rain coats, inflatable toys and some recreational inflatables like swimming pool rings. But because demand was somewhat seasonal, Hivix began exploring additional markets, eventually repositioning as an OEM manufacturer of inflatable mattresses, cushions and air bags for industry applications. Now, about 70 percent of their products (sold only in Japan) are designed for the medical and health care market.
Hivix currently provides about 50 percent of the anti-decubitus air mattresses used in Japan, says Junko Takai, president. By preventing pressure on the body, these mattresses—such as the AS-M001 Nagomi—help avoid and alleviate problems like bed sores. The mattresses, inflated and deflated by an electric pump, automatically adjust the pressure as needed, and are constructed primarily with a polyurethane film for the air cells with nylon and polyester fabrics used for the top and the base cover. Takai predicts the demand for these mattresses and their other inflatable health care products will only increase as the population ages and people live longer.
Squease Ltd. (Located in Essex, U.K.; U.S. headquarters in Merion Station, Pa.)
The Squease is an inflatable nylon vest designed for people with autism, sleep and/or anxiety disorders, ADHD; or anyone having difficulty processing sensory information. The lightweight vests, which can be worn under clothing by children or adults, are inflated by squeezing a hand pump, enabling wearers to regulate pressure. According to the company, this hug-like pressure helps soothe and calm anxious individuals suffering from everyday situations that can result in stress or sensory overload. When deflated, the vests fit loosely and are comfortable enough for all-day use. A company spokesperson describes demand as “growing and high, specifically in the autism communities in Europe, Australia and the U.S.”