Hypoxia and the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370

July 1, 2014
SFU is offering the public an opportunity to experience the effects of hypoxia and nitrogen narcosis in a controlled environment. Sherri Ferguson is the director of SFU's environmental medicine and physiology unit.

Sherri Ferguson, an SFU researcher who works with Canada's only civilian hypo-hyperbaric chamber, says hypoxia's recent link to the missing Malaysian jet conjures up "thoughts of passengers and crew gasping for air" while in reality they would have "peacefully just gone to sleep" in a matter of minutes. Given the altitude and cabin depressurization they would have had about one minute of "useful consciousness," she says. "The lack of oxygen saturation in the blood stream would then lead to a variety of symptoms including poor coordination, reduced vision, inability to see colors, fatigue, headache, dizziness, sweating and euphoria and eventually unconsciousness and death."

Ferguson directs SFU's Environmental Medicine & Physiology Unit, which researchers use to carry out studies on the effects of and nitrogen narcosis on pilots and divers. She was recently granted research trainee awards from Worksafe BC and the US Office of Naval Research to carry out further scientific investigations into the effect of high pressure on cognition and heart function in divers. SFU recently partnered with hyperbaric safety specialist, International ATMO, of San Antonio TX to offer the first Hyperbaric Safety Director course in compliance with Canadian standards.

Dr. Peter Ruben, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Science, says SFU trains many civilian and military pilots and divers to recognize and experience the symptoms of hypoxia and narcosis in a clinical setting so that "negative outcomes can hopefully be avoided." SFU's hypo/hyperbaric chamber is also used to research low-and high-pressure treatments for traumatic brain injuries, autism and diabetic neuropathy and wound treatment and is currently the only place in Canada offering training.

Hypo/Hyperbaric Chamber


Hypo/Hyperbaric Chamber

Related Stories

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers aren't cure-alls, FDA warns

August 22, 2013

(HealthDay)—Despite claims on some websites, there is no evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy cures or is an effective treatment for diseases such as cancer, autism, diabetes or other diseases, the U.S. Food and Drug ...

Recommended for you

Sustaining biomedical research: Med school deans speak out

May 27, 2015

Cuts in federal support and unreliable funding streams are creating a hostile work environment for scientists, jeopardizing the future of research efforts and ultimately clinical medicine, according to leaders of the nation's ...

Why are magazines in practice waiting rooms mainly old?

December 11, 2014

Ever wondered why general practice waiting rooms contain mainly old magazines? Could it be that practice staff put out only old magazines or do they put out reasonably recent ones and these disappear?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.