The underground speleological complex is a unique construction with a separate ventilation system and its own infrastructure. In this regard, the underground therapeutic and recreational complex is fundamentally different from all caving objects operating nowadays.
Underground speleological complex consists of 2 sections. The first – has functioned since 1990. The second underground department was put into operation in July 2012. It is located on the basis of the first mine, seven kilometers from the surface buildings of the hospital in Soligorsk.
For the first time in the world practice of speleotherapy underground hospital was located in two different mining-geological conditions, as well as a complex of additional mine workings was passed to form a healing speleological environment and its regeneration. One set of excavations for therapeutic purposes was arranged in the potassium salt layer.
Another set of mine workings of the same purpose was made in the underlying rock salt massif. Two complexes of mine workings provide unique conditions for the formation of speleo-environment, which are typical for the conditions of a potassium mine, as well as for the conditions of a rock-salt mine.
In these conditions the range of forming therapeutic factors of speleo-environment necessary for effective implementation of the therapeutic process is significantly expanded. The whole complex of factors determines the uniqueness of the underground health facility in terms of expanding the medical indications for the use of speleotherapy method. At the same time, the potential of the method in achieving both therapeutic and recreational effect is significantly increased. This is confirmed by many years of practice in operating speleotherapy facilities.
The second feature of speleological complex is a special network of air-supplying ventilation workings. The above set of workings has a reasonable length, as well as the regulated mobility of the passing air. This technical solution ensures the formation of healing parameters of speleo-environment, corresponding to the material composition of salt rocks and mountain-geological conditions of speleotherapy hospital location. In this regard, the healing environment is unique in its composition and, accordingly, the nature of the impact on the patient’s body.
The third important feature of the hospital is related to its design. This feature of speleotherapy due to the separate, separate ventilation of all medical rooms. In this ventilation system, clean air enters each chamber and then, through air-draining wells, is discharged into the general ventilation outlet. Under such a ventilation system, the “exhausted” air cannot return back to the general air environment of the treatment ward’s mine workings. Such system of through, isolated ventilation of treatment rooms prevents anthropogenic pollution of the air environment of the whole ward.
All this complex of factors determines the uniqueness of the underground health facility for the formation of specific therapeutic factors of the environment and its continuous recovery. The design and layout of mine workings for speleotherapy provide conditions for the optimal implementation of therapeutic and recreational activities of the course treatment in the working and emergency modes of the mine. Underground health resort by its potential associated with the recreation of healing environment and ensuring its continuous regeneration is a unique health care facility of the republic that has no analog in the world practice of speleotherapy.
The physical and chemical environment of the microclimate of the Soligorsk salt mines differs significantly from that of other speleological complexes. Thus, the sylvinite layer of salt, located near the halite layer, provides 20 times higher content of potassium chloride in the air than in other similar mines, the great depth of the Soligorsk mines (420 m) provides higher figures of atmospheric pressure, which contributes to the increase in partial pressure of oxygen and the better assimilation of it by the body.
Underground speleotherapy department is a complex of main and auxiliary mine workings. The main mine workings, which form a therapeutic zone, are designed to accommodate patients and medical personnel, conducting speleotherapy sessions, breathing exercises, weight-bearing walking, organization of leisure and recreation of patients. In each department in addition to treatment rooms there are: a doctor’s office, nurse’s station, treatment room, physical therapy rooms, rooms for recreation, reading, games in checkers and chess, watching TV, a room for playing billiards, room nursing staff, room mountain master, terracing track for weight-bearing walking.
Auxiliary workings form a network of air-supplying and air ventilating workings with individual ventilation system in the rooms, which provides the formation of a stable therapeutic speleo-environment and its continuous recovery during the whole period of the healing process. The air fed into the speleological complex travels more than two kilometers through a so-called labyrinth and is saturated with salt aerosol, ionized, cleaned of dust and contaminants, warmed in the cold season and cooled in the warm season.
The design of underground therapeutic facility, developed on the basis of complex scientific research, has been tested and has received worldwide recognition. The long-term operation of the underground health resort showed high effectiveness of the incorporated constructive solutions, which have no analogue in the world practice of speleotherapy to recreate the most optimal conditions of speleological environment.
Characteristics of the speleo-environment:
- air temperature – 15,8-17,0 C
- relative humidity:
- in warm period of the year – 63.0-80.0%
- in a cold period of a year – 48,0-78,0%
- air mobility 0.15-0.20 m/s
- salt aerosol content 0.15-0.35 mg/m3
- fine salt aerosol (fraction up to 5 microns – 85%)
- oxygen content – 20,80-20,90 vol.%
- carbon dioxide content 0.031-0.047 vol.%
- low content of microflora in the air (total microbial load of the air is 42-102 colonies per m3)
- absence of allergens
- high air ionization with predominance of light aeroions of negative and positive charges – 2,19-2,62*103 in 1 cm3
The factors of the underground environment, also capable of influencing the patients’ organism, include: shielding effect of the mountain massif from the impact of electromagnetic fields of radiofrequency range, psycho-emotional re-adaptation due to the unusualness of staying in the underground conditions.
The quality of the environment is maintained on the basis of fulfilling the measures included in the acting Sanitary Rules and Norms “Hygienic and Anti-Epidemic Requirements to the Technology of Speleotherapy in Potash Mines” SanPiN 11-132 RB 2000, approved by the Decree of the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Republic of Belarus ¹52 of November 10, 2000.
Effects of speleosurgery:
- phlegm thinning
Sodium chloride aerosol (stay in the “white” salt) promotes a more pronounced thinning of sputum and its subsequent removal from the airways (improvement of bronchial drainage), has a more pronounced antibacterial effect.
- Bronchial asthma, predominantly non-allergic form (infectious nature); mixed form
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic bronchitis
Potassium chloride aerosol (staying in the “red” salt) has a more pronounced anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effect.
- Bronchial asthma, predominantly allergic form; mixed form
- Pollinosis (pollen allergy).
- Allergic rhinitis of various origins
- Allergic urticaria
The predominance of light air ions in the underground environment:
- has a bronchodilator effect
- normalizes the activity of vegetative nervous system
- general well-being
- raises efficiency
Absence of allergens and low content of microbes in the air environment:
- Reduces the allergic disposition of the body
- Improve the immune system
The increased pressure in the conditions of the underground speleological complex at 32.8 – 38.0 mm Hg promotes better assimilation of oxygen by the body.
The effect of speleological environment:
- reduction of the frequency (or complete cessation) of attacks of suffocation
- easing (or stopping) of coughing
- improvement of sputum discharge
- Decrease (or disappearance) of dyspnea
- improvement of external respiratory function
- increased tolerance of physical activity
- Decreased medication load on the body
- achievement of a longer and more stable remission of the disease
- Decrease in the frequency of cases and the duration of temporary disability
- change of the disease severity to a milder degree
- Significant improvement in the quality of life
Salt of the Earth.
Not all the wonders of the world can be appreciated from a bird’s eye view. Many natural riches are safely hidden from our eyes in the bowels of the earth. However, thanks to the efforts of scientists the secret becomes clear, and the found treasures are at the service of people. For example, in Soligorsk there is a recreational complex, which literally gives a “second breath” to seriously ill people. For more than 20 years the Republican Speleotherapy Hospital, having departments at a depth of 420 meters, has been treating thousands of patients.
In the depths of potassium ores.
The therapeutic effect of “white gold” became known in ancient Greece and ancient Italy. Today there are already dozens of speleotherapy centers around the world, but they appear mostly in waste salt mines. Soligorsk health resort, on the contrary, was built by the original scientifically grounded project. The hospital is located next to an active mine, for future chambers local miners cut through separate sections. The underground passages are planned in such a way that each chamber maintains its own individual ventilation system. The supplied air travels more than 2 km along a special labyrinth. Labyrinth sections stabilize air temperature, separate excess moisture and dust. Thanks to this, the air in the hospital is several times more sterile than in conventional operating rooms.
Belarusian speleological complex is unique in its composition of natural salt aerosol. The combination of “red” and “white” salt allows you to put patients in different environments, taking into account the form of the disease. Each centimeter of coverage continuously emits healing salt ions. The concentration of beneficial substances is modestly estimated at 10 times greater than in any prestigious seaside resort. Patients do not need any additional drugs – “universal doctor” itself overcomes asthma, bronchitis, pollinosis, allergic rhinitis. Effects of speleo-environment has a beneficial effect on the skin, so people come to the hospital even with diagnoses of psoriasis and allergic dermatitis. Doctors note that a stable microclimate promotes overall relaxation, which is a powerful support for the entire immune system. That is why 97% of the visitors of the sanatorium have stable therapeutic effect from the treatment within 1-2 years, and many of them even leave illnesses forever.
Almost half of the in-patients are children, who need special attention and care. But the children themselves sometimes find it difficult to understand why the place where they are is called a hospital. After all, most of their time underground is taken up by outdoor activities (volleyball, basketball, table tennis). You can spend time playing chess and checkers, as well as billiards. There are separate “dancing grounds” and reading rooms. Together with doctors, children master the subtleties of breathing exercises with elements of yoga and Tibetan medicine. Such active therapy helps to achieve a complete recovery. True, sessions underground are permitted only from 10 years of age. Children from 10 to 16 years old are admitted for treatment only if accompanied by a legal representative. But recently the young patients can be treated in organized groups – Soligorsk clinic was the first in the world practice that initiated such a method.
At a high level.
Children of younger age (from 3 years) can also take a course of treatment – in the ground building specialists recreated conditions of the salt caves with speleological rooms. There are also cozy rooms of hotel type for other patients to stay after the recovery sessions. Upstairs there is a swimming pool, phyto bar, spa and beauty salon with modern devices. There is an outdoor sports area, a park for walks and a large reservoir surrounded by a pine forest – all this, according to doctors, effectively consolidates the therapeutic effect.
Specialists, who keep statistics on recovery, note another pattern: those who have been in the resort once, certainly come back again. Magic salt? Or maybe there is something else hidden in the depth, which gives such an unforgettable feeling of renewal and freedom? Soligorsk land has not revealed all its healing secrets yet, but even now its salt relentlessly absorbs fears and ailments. This means that all of us, who hope to return and improve health, can now knock on the door of the local speleotherapy clinic and start a fascinating journey to the salt mines.