Hyperbarics and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Did you know that each year, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability? The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are approximately 2.87 million annual TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the US, including over 837,000 of these health events affecting children. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is showing positive signs of enhancing the recovery from a TBI and augment brain activity. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of HBOT when facing a traumatic brain injury. 

What is TBI? 

Traumatic brain injuries are a bump, blow, or jolt to the head caused by incidents such as sports concussions, car accidents, or even war injuries. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” which could mean a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” which could include an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. People with a mild TBI typically recover within a few weeks but, for as many as 20%, problems can linger for months or years. 

For patients who are in the latter category and find themselves dealing with symptoms for months or years, hyperbarics may help. Known as post-concussion syndrome, Many patients find themselves suffering from post-concussion syndrome with symptoms including depression, cognitive problems, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and mental fogginess. While antidepressants can lift a patient’s mood, painkillers can ease the headaches, and physical therapy may help alleviate dizziness, most researchers agree that these remedies don’t heal the injury within the brain.

That is where hyperbaric oxygen therapy comes in. A growing body of evidence supports the belief of many scientists that HBOT can dramatically help cases of TBI. 

What is HBOT and how can it help? 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment where a patient breathes 100% oxygen in what’s called a hyperbaric chamber, and the result is a dramatic increase in the amount of oxygen in the blood and a dramatic decrease in swelling and inflammation.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy “can help augment brain activity by reducing hypoxia and neuroinflammation, while increasing circulation in the brain. In addition, HBOT has been reported to synergistically enhance the effects of other therapies including standard intensive rehabilitation for TBI patients to help accelerate recovery.” (Source: International Hyperbarics Association) 

Clinical studies have demonstrated the benefits of HBOT for TBI in the following ways: attenuates the effects of hypoxia and inflammation in the brain, promotes neurogenesis, moderates mitochondrial, enhances stem cell mobilization and proliferation, increases the penumbra tissue recovery, stimulates neuroplasticity, induces remyelination, and augments concussion recovery. 

Patients may experience improvement in gross and fine motor control, improved speech and cognitive understanding, advanced cognitive functions, and improved balance. Patients have also experienced fewer seizures and an alleviation of spasticity. 

A 2014 controlled longitudinal study showed evidence of motor function improvement in children who underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The eight-month study examined 150 children with cerebral palsy. HBOT was included in three of the four groups of children with their standard rehabilitation. A control group did not undergo HBOT and only were offered standard therapy. Each group that was offered HBOT received 40 one-hour sessions, six days a week. Each HBOT group was treated with different levels of ATAs (atmospheres absolute) ranging from 1.3 to 1.75 ATA. 

The results were promising. All four groups improved in motor control. However, the three groups that also received HBOT showed, on average, 3 times higher improvement in fine and gross motor control! 

Hyperbaric treatment massively increases the amount of oxygen to the brain. The benefits can be life-changing for those afflicted with traumatic brain injuries. Check out the research and studies by clicking the links. For more information on how HBOT could help you, contact Angel Healing Group. 

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