Military Usage of Oxygen Concentrators



The origin of Oxygen Concentrators can be traced back to 1917 when Jon Scott Jaldane had first discovered its use on soldiers serving in WWI. By the 1940s, these concentrators were being widely used in WWII as well. By the 1970s, they came to be used in homes, where the patient was delivered with the equipment right at his/her doorstep. In early 2000, patients felt the need for oxygen concentrators to be more compact, thereby imparting mobility and today, millions of patients are being treated for various ailments by the use of oxygen derived from these concentrators. As technology advances, the lighter weight and ease of mobility becomes more and more attractive to those in need of Oxygen. 

How Does It Work? 

An oxygen concentrator should not be mistaken for an oxygen tank or compressed oxygen. As opposed to an oxygen tank carrying a fixed amount of filtered oxygen, an oxygen concentrator or an oxygen generator has an unlimited supply of oxygen. This is because the concentrating device will simply absorb its surrounding air and compress it. Thereafter, it filters the nitrogen from it and a mask or nasal cannula is used as an outlet to feed the purified oxygen to the patient. Due to the versatility of oxygen concentrators, they are widely used as both treating and therapeutic tools for those serving in the military. 

Uses in the Military

The medical world was introduced to oxygen concentrators because of its usage in World War II and still today, they are used extensively in treating the injured and the ailing. TBI(Traumatic Brain Injury) is one of the most significant health issues faced by both veterans and serving defense men/women alike. Not only on the combat field, but TBI and brain concussions can also be caused due to vigorous activities that the military personnel undergo in their day-to-day lives such as exposure to explosions and blasts, and physically demanding exercises and training. All in all, TBI can impact the performance, health, and safety of military personnel greatly and is a rising cause of concern for their well-being. A second common mental trauma that is widely prominent in military men/women and veterans is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The causes of PTSD are ubiquitous in the strenuous military life such as a violent encounter, military combats, mental shock and both natural and man-made disasters. PTSD victims have been known to exhibit psychological and physical symptoms like emotional instability, nightmares, and insomnia, which, in turn, affect their social, personal, physical health and marital well-being. 

Although it is believed that PTSD is prominent in veterans and TBI in serving personnel, either of them can impact anyone and it becomes necessary to find a permanent and quick treatment for them. The answer to both these disorders lies in oxygen. Oxygen Concentrators can be used in the military for providing HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy), a treatment that delivers 100% oxygen at pressures greater than 1 Atmosphere Absolute (ATA). The oxygen concentrator serves as portable supplies for the HBOT chamber which fuels oxygen to the ailing patient. HBOT supplies oxygen to the human brain at thrice the rate at which natural oxygen is inhaled. This exposure to oxygen speeds up the brain processes. It also speeds up the healing process because oxygen helps the blood cells to accelerate their reparation process. Owing to this, HBOT is being increasingly used to extend a healing hand to veterans injured in wars and to accelerate their rehabilitation. For veterans who have just returned from the war, HBOT and oxygen concentrators can be used to heal their visible and invisible wounds. Portability is important for those in the combat fields and veterans alike because the survival rate drastically increases when the patients can utilize the oxygen therapy, even on the go. Another reason why oxygen concentrators are preferred over oxygen tanks in the military is that oxygen tanks are impractical and dangerous in such critical situations, owing to their suseptability to leakage.


People serving in the military are exposed to a variety of injuries which are both physical and mental. Physical injuries include injuries to the head and the spinal cord, reconstruction surgeries, poisonings, effects of exposure to radiation, burns, and infections. Mental injuries include TBI, PTSD, and HACO (High Altitude Cerebral Oedema) that are caused due to combat situations. Since the oxygen concentrators are easy to operate, portable and light weight, these can be carried to the healing centers, both on and off the battlefield, to increase the supply of oxygen to the brain that will facilitate faster mental and physical healing.