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Multiple Sclerosis Caithness

Health and Welfare

North of Scotland Friends of ARMS
Action for Research
Centre Contact Number 01955 604586

Wick M S Therapy Centre
Braehead Centre, 37 Smith Terrace
Wick, Caithness
Postcode KW1 5HD

20 July 09
From Jane Farrington
Do you know what the building on Smith Terrace overlooking the harbour is used for and what it holds? The building was once used as an Old Mans Rest but now houses a Hyperbaric Chamber. What is a Hyperbaric Chamber you ask? It is a diving bell as used by divers suffering from the bends; however I use this to alleviate the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

I was diagnosed with MS in 1982 and was advised by DR P MacMorran “try this Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment and see if it will help.” I knew nothing about HBO so decided to see what it entailed.

Oxygen is essential to every tissue of the body and any tissue injury requires oxygen for healing. Research at Dundee University and Ninewells Hospital showed that in inflammation that is typical of MS the transport of oxygen is severely limited by the tissue swelling, therefore if you dissolve more oxygen into the body under pressure then the body reduces the blood flow to the brain. At the same time it increases oxygen delivery to the tissues which is needed to repair damage caused by MS attacks.

My treatment started with an initial course of 20 sessions over a period of 28 days. Each session lasted 2 hour. The dive as we call them starts when you enter the oxygen chamber the doors are closed and the operator begins to increase the pressure or go down as we say to whatever depth is required where the patients gain benefit. It takes approximately 15 minutes to reach my depth of 33 feet when I start my treatment breathing pure oxygen through an oxygen mask, others find 24 feet or 15 feet is all the pressure they need to obtain benefit. I remain in the chamber for 60 minutes. I sit quite happily there for the hour either I read or do a crossword. It really is very relaxing. At the end of the hour the operator brings me “up” in other words reduces the pressure inside the chamber to the same as outside. This takes about 15 mins then I’m out. Have a cup of tea and ready for home. That night I am quite tired, but next day my energy is back, my mobility is reasonably good and I feel great. This “well being “remains with me all week but reduces each day until I know I need another dive. For me this is once a week treatment and has been since 1982. I am lucky, I have managed to keep the MS in check and I am sure that this is in a greater part due to the HBO facility in Wick.

HBO treatment has also been found to be beneficial to people recovering from -
Leg Ulcers
Cerebral Palsy
Closed Head Injury
Hepatitis C
Sports Injuries
Crohn’s Disease
Diabetic feet

Also it is known that at twice atmospheric pressure the work of the heart is reduced by 20% which is why HBO has been found to be beneficial to heart attack victims

The facility here in Caithness is under used. It was opened nearly 30years ago in Grant Street and benefitted many MS sufferers and others. It does not cost a fortune to use the chamber. We ask that you give what you can, provide at least one of your own operators to work alongside an experienced operator. We will train them up for you; it’s not difficult to learn how to work the chamber. Arms Wick survives on donations from other organisation, rising money in any way we can to keep the chamber open.

If you would like to know more or come and visit us to see how things work. Contact the Centre on Wick 604586 leave a message and we will get back to you or phone 07775683300

This facility must not be lost if you don’t use it we will lose it.


We are a self-help group, and a registered charity. As a limited company we provide audited accounts and are members of the Scottish Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centres.

Locally we are affectionately known as "arms" or "E  Braeheid" and that is where we are situated, at the Braehead building in Smith Terrace, Wick- where we overlook Wick harbour from an ideal base of comfort and warmth.

When we came into being, it was as part of a movement, to provide a therapy called Hyperbaric Oxygen or HBO and fund ongoing research into MS-hence Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis, and as a group, we were members (friends) of the now defunct national charity ARMS.

Now, having retained the name and being founder members of the Scottish Federation, we feel that we need to re-establish our identity.

Membership and use of the facilities at the Braehead are FREE and we do NOT advocate nor promote the use of any one therapy for getting involved.

Getting involved can be as simple as having you’re own space and time to have, say a special meeting of like minded sufferers with " particular symptoms " & have someone in to talk about that particular area of problems and symptoms. Indeed careers equally need support and if the best available is self help, why not help your selves with the use of this building as a support base?

We welcome any that can use and gain benefit from the Braehead, even if it is only to have a quiet moment and help your self to a cuppa.

Self-help works best with the involvement of others and if ANYBODY affected by Multiple Sclerosis, be it a sufferer, family member or other wishes to make use of "e braeheid" as a meeting point for discussion or support then WELCOME.


HBO as a therapy over the last twenty years has expanded twofold:

  1. The range of conditions for which it is used has increased- details can be obtained from the above.
  2. The controversy surrounding its benefit to Multiple Sclerosis patients has also been increasingly confusing and negative. This at a time when other regimes, or two drugs in particular which are being promoted, are either too expensive or in the "grey" area of legality.

Without contributing to any argument I can only speak as I find, yes many others and I have found sufficient benefit to maintain the use of HBO for many years. I am not cured but it helps a little and to be honest I know as many that felt insufficient improvement or non- and no longer uses it.

But NONE were the worse for trying and those of us who did maintain benefit, started its use early in the diagnosis of MS.

Further information and availability can be obtained by contacting Wick(01955 604586)

A medical advisor is available to the Federation for anyone who wish to speak to him on any aspect of HBO, or wish to have someone medically qualified to talk too on their  behalf.