Portable Oxygen Concentrator Update
In the January 2000 issue of Respiratory Care, Dr. Tom Petty stated that, “Practical portable concentrators should weigh no more than 10 pounds, produce 90% or more oxygen, and provide at least 2L of oxygen for a minimum of 4 hours.” Within two years, the first modern portable oxygen concentrator (POC) appeared on the market, and by 2010 there were numerous POCs available with varying abilities and features that could meet the needs of a range of long term oxygen users. Though the majority of these POCs provided significant features and benefits to LTOT users, none of these POCs could claim to meet Dr. Petty’s definition of a “practical portable concentrator”.
The newly available SimplyGo from Respironics can be considered the POC closest to meeting Dr. Petty’s definition. You will be able to compare its features in an updated chart outlining the basic product specifications of all of the currently available POCS on the market (see pages 4–5). I do hope that you find value in the information provided in these tables should you decide to buy or use a POC. My most common recommendation when advising on the purchase of a POC is to find one that will not only meet your oxygen needs today, but in the future as well–POCs are not inexpensive and you do not want to buy a unit that will be obsolete to you should your oxygen needs increase sooner than later.
With the SimplyGo, there is a trade-off in oxygen production in order to have a lower weight than other Continuous Flow (CF) POCs. All other currently available CF POCs weigh at least 17 pounds, but they all have the ability to produce up to 3 LPM of oxygen. As with any POC, the SimplyGo does have intermittent flow (pulse) delivery capabilities.
Having a CF option available is an attractive choice for those uncomfortable with using pulse delivery at night. For those who are able to sleep with a POC using pulse delivery, the SimplyGo also has a second intermittent flow mode with increased triggering sensitivity called Sleep mode. Unlike the Pulse mode, Sleep mode dose volumes will change based on your respiratory rate. Should the SimplyGo not detect a breath for a period of time, the unit will default to a CF setting.
Battery life is one of the most important considerations in staying active with a POC. According to the SimplyGo specifications, you can expect up to 3.5 hours of uninterrupted operation if you have the device set at 2 in the Pulse mode and are breathing at 20 BPM. Higher pulse settings and/or breath rates will lower battery operating time, so you may need to experiment to find the operat- ing times that will match your typical usage. Operating the SimplyGo in Continuous Flow mode while on battery will yield less run time than in Pulse mode, 2.3 hours when set to 1 LPM and only about 40 minutes on 2 LPM.
Suffice it to say that if you want longer battery times while out and about, it is in your best interest to operate the POC in Pulse mode, provided you can stay oxygenated. I do not recommend sleeping with the SimplyGo (or any POC) operating only from battery power, though the unit will alarm when battery power does get low.
Charge time for one SimplyGo battery is 2 to 3 hours from a fully discharged state, though this may be longer if you are simulta- neously using the device. Unlike the EverGo–Respironic’s first POC, the SimplyGo only has a slot for one battery and you cannot use EverGo batteries in the SimplyGo (and vice-versa). Should you be travel- ing a long distance with the SimplyGo, you should bring enough extra, fully-charged batteries to make the trip.
At the time of this writing, the SimplyGo has not yet been approved as the application for FAA acceptance is pending. The website www.faa.gov will have all currently-approved POCs listed; just search for approved portable concentrators.