People who SCUBA dive have to emerge from the water slowly, after coming up from the depths of the ocean where the atmospheric pressure is high. This allows their bodies to get used to the ocean surface’s low pressure. If they emerge too fast, they will suffer from decompression sickness (or ‘the bends’) and have to spend time in an HBO (hyperbaric oxygen) chamber, to receive pure oxygen in a high pressure environment.
HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) is an effective way of treating a range of other ailments as well. Examples include carbon monoxide poisoning, diabetic injuries and crush wounds. Early intervention is an extremely important part of recovery. Intervening quickly following diagnosis improves the chance of a beneficial outcome.
In addition, HBOT is used to treat brain injuries resulting from trauma, or from other causes like a stroke. Although the quantity of people who use hyperbaric oxygen therapy for traumatic brain injury is unclear, it is becoming more popular. Nonetheless, insurance typically does not cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy for traumatic brain injury, and the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has not endorsed it for this purpose either. Older scientific research does not indicate that HBOT effectively treats brain injuries, however an increasing amount of recent research does.
Traumatic brain injuries are a big cause of disability and death. Not all brain damage happens at the time of injury. If the oxygen supply and blood flow to the brain is reduced after an accident, it can lead to additional brain damage — which is a key cause of preventable disability and death itself. Therefore, in the early period following an injury, it is vital that actions are taken to minimize secondary damage to the brain, to offer the best chance of recovery.
Results From Clinical Studies
A 2011 study of American war veterans, with PTSD and mild, blast induced traumatic brain injuries, revealed some interesting results. Post concussion symptoms, headaches, cognition, abnormal neurological test findings, depression suicidal ideation, PTSD, brain blood flow and quality of life were all substantially improved following thirty days of HBOT treatment. Half a year later, most veterans who took part maintained their results.
A 2009 study showed that patients with serious brain injuries, who were given high oxygen levels in an HBO enclosure, increased their brain metabolism in comparison to a control group, and a group that received treatment with sea level equivalent pressure.
How the Treatment Works
The brain uses a lot of oxygen, and can quickly become depleted of it. In the event of trauma, the brain frequently swells and the wounded tissue doesn’t get sufficient oxygen. Consequently, the area that requires the oxygen the most receives the least. HBOT infuses the cerebrospinal fluid with oxygen, which sends it to the brain and facilitates healing. Another harmful consequence of brain injury is inflammation. HBOT reduces this by sending pure oxygen to the affected areas, which helps them to heal gradually.
Common Misconceptions About HBOT
Essentially, HBOT a simple therapy, however there is some misunderstanding about it. Many people falsely claim to offer this type of therapy. For this reason, it is important to be properly supervised in a certified medical facility. This treatment should not be received at home. Also, HBOT is a supplemental therapy. It should not be regarded the main treatment for brain injuries. Patients are always advised to undergo other therapies – such as physical, occupational, psychological and speech – alongside HBOT. These other therapies enhance the brain’s condition and make it more responsive to HBOT.
The Cost of Receiving HBO Treatment and Treatment Duration
The exact cost of treating brain injuries with HBO varies, based on the location and the medical facility it is carried out in. Throughout America, the fee per session ranges from $1500 to $500. Nonetheless, the majority of clinical studies don’t charge a fee to the people who sign up to help.
Patients get one or a couple of HBO sessions each day, based on their availability. Brain injuries need at least forty to eighty one or two hour sessions each week — and frequently much more than this. The treatment is progressive, with further improvements appearing as the sessions go on.
Side Effects and Usage Restrictions
There are no negative side effects with HBOT, however some patients notice increased ear pressure, similar to what occurs when flying. Certain patients should avoid HBOT, such as those with serious lung diseases like emphysema, severe pain in the inner ear, or uncontrolled seizure activity. After the person receiving treatment lies down, gentle music is often played. HBOT can be extremely soothing.
Clinical research into HBOT will carry on for a long time into the future. Lots of people with brain injuries, and their relatives, hope that eventually it will be a proven treatment that qualifies for insurance cover.