What is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
Portable Oxygen concentrator is battery operated Oxygen Concentrator which works on the same principle as a stationary or home Oxygen Concentrator but is much more compact & mobile.
A Portable Oxygen Concentrator is a small device that works on battery and provides Oxygen to patients by taking room air.
In comparison to Home Oxygen Concentrators, most Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) work on Pulse/on-demand flow; i.e. they provide Oxygen to patients only at the time of inhalation.
Portable Oxygen Concentrators work on internal/external rechargeable batteries and can also be used as a plug and play to electric socket being stationed at home. Most models have an option of connecting to the car charger (DC socket in car) as well.
Longer battery life make life a lot easier and patients don't feel physiologically burdened upon others while undergoing oxygen therapy; they can spend time with their families/friends, travel anywhere and most importantly can do their necessary work/job.
There are 2 modes in a Portable Oxygen Concentrator:
- Pulse or on-demand Flow
- Continuous Flow
Some POCs have only Pulse flow while some have both. It depends on patients requirements which flow is suitable.
Pulse (On-demand) Flow:
This mode enables / prompts the Oxygen Concentrator to produce Oxygen only when the patient is actually inhaling and not otherwise; hence, reducing load on the machine. When a patient inhales, it causes negative air pressure which activates the Oxygen Concentrator to provide Oxygen at that very moment as and when required.
In pulse flow, machine gives Oxygen only when a person breathes ‘in’ and stops immediately during exhalation. Thereby, increasing the battery duration and becoming more efficient.
This method is referred to be a clever / resourceful technique of using an Oxygen Concentrator during the respiratory process.
Pulse Flow is much sensitive, sophisticated and conserver technology which makes it more economical and efficient. It is also known as ‘Pulse Dose’ and ‘On Demand’.
Nasal Cannula is used by patients opting for this mode.
The ‘pulses’ or ‘shots’ of Oxygen are measured in milliliters (mL). The flow that we usually set is called ‘pulse setting’ which is equivalent to the same Litres Per minute (LPM) in continuous flow.
- 2 pulse setting = Equivalent of 2 LPM
- 3 pulse setting = Equivalent of 3 LPM
- 5 pulse setting = Equivalent of 5 LPM
As the name suggests, it simply means the Oxygen produced by the machine is being delivered continuously to the patient, whether the patient is inhaling or exhaling.
Continuous Flow mode should be used if POC is connected to a CPAP or a Bi-level device or if the patient has a habit of breathing through mouth during sleep.
All the stationary home oxygen concentrators are also based on this and provide continuous flow of Oxygen to patients
It is to be noted that the oxygen produced by the machine during exhalation phase remains unconsumed. However, there are times when only continuous flow is required and that’s why this mode is made available in some POCs at extra cost.
Portable oxygen concentrators operate on the same principle as a stationary concentrator; the air compressor is miniaturized and pressurizes the ambient air into the small molecular sieves which have a property of trapping the Nitrogen.
Air contains 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen & 1% other gases; once this Nitrogen is removed from air, it leaves behind Oxygen as the primary gas which can be supplied to patient using a delivery system like cannula or mask, this Nitrogen is released back into the surroundings.
Main article: How does an Oxygen Concentrator work?
Major brands (with Models)
AirSep [Caire] - About the company
SeQual Technology [Caire] - About the company
- eQuinox - Product review
Philips Respironics - About the company
Invacare - About the company
Inogen - About the company
- One G3
- One G2 - Product review
DeVilbiss Healthcare - About the company
FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the portable oxygen concentrators which are approved by FAA can be taken on an airplane while travelling. FAA is not to be confused with FDA (Food & Drug Administration) as all major oxygen concentrators also carry FDA approval.
External link: FAA approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators
- Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) is a small device typically weighing 800grams to 6kgs which provides Oxygen by removing Nitrogen from room air.
- The device works on rechargeable batteries, electric socket at home and DC output in car.
- 2 modes: Pulse (On demand) & Continuous
- Some POCs have just pulse mode while some have both Pulse & continuous flow option available.
- Major brands: AirSep, SeQual, Philips Respironics, Invacare, Inogen, DeVilbiss Healthcare
- The POCs with FAA approval can be taken on-board.