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Oxygen plays an essential role in healing. Whenever our body heals from an injury, the cells require more oxygen to repair the damage. Our brain weighs 2 percent of the body weight, but it consumes 20 percent of the oxygen inhaled by us. This is why proper oxygen supply becomes an important factor for effective recovery from brain injuries.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious damage that affects many veterans around the world. The reason HBOT therapy benefits these veterans is that it delivers extra oxygen to the brain to accelerate the healing process.
HBOT Therapy Benefits
HBOT therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. This process enables oxygen to dissolve in the body fluids such as fluids of the central nervous system, blood plasma, and the lymph. As the amount of oxygen in our body increases, it becomes easy to reach damaged tissues and cells where blood circulation is either impaired or blocked.
The whole procedure is helpful in traumatic brain injury treatment because it increases oxygen intake and further makes it easy for oxygen to reach affected areas. It offers 10 times more oxygen to the body which enhances the functioning of the brain cells. HBOT also enables the body to rebuild brain connections and promote the inactive neurons.
HBOT therapy benefits our body by:
- Increasing blood flow,
- Promoting blood vessel growth,
- Enhancing body’s ability to fight infections,
- Reducing swelling from injuries,
- Accelerating the healing process by increasing oxygen levels in the body.
Positive Effects of HBOT on Traumatic Brain Injury
A study carried out by Louisiana State University in New Orleans states that the HBOT therapy can benefit veterans with traumatic brain injury and help them recover from the symptoms of Persistent Post-Concussion Syndrome (PPCS). In this study 30 retired or active-duty military women and men, of age 18 to 65 were involved. After receiving 40 HBOT sessions, 52 percent of patients had reduced PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms, 10 patients no longer had suicidal ideation, and 75 percent were not anxious.
In yet another trial, 15 patients suffering from traumatic brain injury and prolonged post-concussion syndrome were given HBOT therapy. After the treatment, these patients had improvement in overall functioning, increased cerebral flow, and improved memory, information processing speed, cognitive functioning, and executive functions.
In a scientific trial conducted on mice, HBOT was given to check its effect as a neuroprotective treatment in case of traumatic brain injury. The results showed an overall improvement in functioning and proved that the therapy has potential to treat traumatic brain injury.
A study evaluated the HBOT therapy benefits on patients with severe head injuries. Out of 56 patients, 28 received hyperbaric therapy, and these patients were examined on the basis of disability reduction, social behavior, hospitalization duration, and Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The treatment had positive effects on patients and they had less hospitalization, reduced disability, and better GCS.
Success Stories of HBOT Benefits on Veterans
1. James Skarin, a Navy veteran of eight and a half year, who also worked as an Air National Guard for another six years, suffered from traumatic brain injury. It was hard for him to live with traumatic brain injury and he had signs of short-term memory, increased anxiety, kidney damage, balance issues, and trouble speaking before starting the HBOT treatment.
Skarin received 40 sessions over a time period of 8 weeks, and now, he describes HBOT as “almost a rebirth.” He saw changes and improvements in his health after 8 weeks of treatment. Skarin says that the treatment felt like, “feeling human again, feeling like I’m going to be OK.”
2. In a case study, a 25-year old military veteran was exposed to a blast injury. He was considered for HBOT treatment after 3 years of this incident, and at this time, he suffered memory loss and short-term confusion. He was also diagnosed with PCS (Post Concussion syndrome) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) shortly after the exposure. Later, after the incident, in his 15 months duty, he encountered 6 more explosions. He had continued headache, sleep disturbance, and tinnitus symptoms. He received 39 sessions of HBOT therapy at 1.5 atm. The treatment significantly reduced his PTSD and PCS symptoms.
3. This success story involves a 29-year old woman who suffered a brain gunshot wound which gave her severe spasticity, functional quadriplegia, mild cognitive impairment, and autonomic disturbance. She appeared for treatment after almost five and a half years. The treatment with HBOT therapy helped her increase blood flow in the brain, improve patchy heterogeneous patterns, and enhance autonomic functions, speech, spasticity, and motor functions.
HBOT therapy benefits for traumatic brain injury and many other brain-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cerebral palsy is widely known. Although HBOT is yet to receive an official approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is a popular form of therapy among the veterans with traumatic brain injury. However, it is always advised to consult your doctor for full diagnosis of symptoms before considering hyperbaric oxygen therapy.