Mobility and Oxygen Therapy – Choices of Portable Oxygen Units

A Layman’s Definition Of Long Term Oxygen Therapy – LTOT

There are many, many, people who are receiving long term oxygen therapy – which in layman’s terms means that they must get more oxygen than what they are receiving normally. And every week more people are diagnosed with lung and respiratory problems that demand supplemental oxygen. Unfortunately the numbers are getting higher – and a major culprit is smoking.

The required supplemental oxygen varies according to the severity of the illness – some need extra oxygen 2 to 3 hours a day, some at night, some only when exercising and others 24 hours a day.

Mobility and Supplemental Oxygen

One of the effects, which does have a big impact on how patients feel and live, is that their lives, and specially their mobility, is limited. Most of us take for granted both breathing and being able to move around. Those who must have supplemental oxygen can no longer afford to take this for granted and in fact it becomes a major point in their lives and daily routines.

Portable Oxygen Units – Before

The good news is that there are portable oxygen tanks available that allow patients to move around and be more mobile.

Not long ago oxygen containers that were made to provide greater mobility were limited to heavy tanks filled with either compressed or liquid oxygen. When you realize that one of the consequences of insufficient oxygen is fatigue, then it is obvious that a heavy load will not help you move around.

Various types of trolleys were used to carry the unit around, but they in turn made things cumbersome. Another point to take into account is that smaller tanks will have less oxygen, limiting the time you can dedicate to a particular activity.

But having said all that patients could move, and even if their lifestyle was limited, it was still much better than otherwise.

Types of Oxygen Units

There are 3 types of oxygen delivery systems for long term therapy patients and all three have portable options:

Compressed Oxygen Tanks – Aluminum tanks that contain pure oxygen in gas form. They are now much lighter and have a range of different sizes. Mobile tanks are those that weigh less than 5 pounds and portable one up to and around 17 pounds.
Liquid Oxygen Tanks – As name describes, these are tanks that hold liquid oxygen and are also lighter and come in different sizes.
Oxygen Concentrators – These are machines that extract oxygen from the surrounding air, redirecting it in a purer form to the user. Portable oxygen concentrators supply oxygen for much longer periods as they are not oxygen containers but oxygen suppliers. In other words they are limited not by the amount stored but by the power source. Portable ones can be plugged in and therefore extract oxygen from the surrounding air as long as the unit is receiving its power. Most POC’s have a rechargeable battery – depending on the make and model, this can last from 3 to 8 hours. (New alternatives are bound to be introduced as this is one of the major requirements of supplemental oxygen users).

The oxygen flow is regulated by a flow valve to the patient who receives the oxygen either through a nose cannula or a mask. Their are different types of valves – some provide oxygen at a continuous flow and others can be regulated. There are both positive and negative aspects. In constant flow rates the upside is that the patient is always receiving oxygen at a predetermined rate; the downside is that tanks last much less as oxygen is provided whether the patient is breathing in or out. For regulated valves the upside is that much less oxygen is wasted; the downside is that oxygen is provided at specific intervals that are not necessarily aligned to the actual intake. Having said all that many patients prefer regulated flow valves.

Portable Oxygen Units are life changing for people on oxygen therapy. Information and facts on supplemental oxygen equipment and lifestyles for patients and those who share with them, at

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