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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have long plagued military personnel exposed to blast-induced events. Seeking novel treatment options, researchers have turned to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a non-invasive method that involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. A recent Phase I study explored the potential of 1.5 ATA HBOT in treating military subjects with chronic blast-induced mild to moderate TBI/post-concussion syndrome (PCS) and PTSD.

Mechanism

The exact mechanism by which HBOT works in TBI and PTSD is not fully understood. However, it is thought to have a number of beneficial effects, including:

  • Increased blood flow to the brain
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased production of new brain cells
  • Improved nerve cell function
  • Reduced oxidative stress

Study Findings

The study found that HBOT was safe and well-tolerated in military subjects with chronic blast-induced TBI/PCS and PTSD. It was also associated with significant improvements in the following areas:

  • Symptom Reduction: Subjects reported a significant reduction in symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety.
  • Neurological Improvements: Subjects showed significant improvements in their neurological exam, including balance, coordination, and reflexes.
  • Cognitive Gains: Subjects showed a significant increase in memory, attention, and their full-scale IQ.
  • Quality of Life: Subjects reported better quality of life and reduced anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and PTSD symptoms.
  • SPECT Imaging: Brain imaging showed improved blood flow and metabolism with HBOT.

Conclusion

This study brings hope for using HBOT to treat blast-related TBI/PCS and PTSD, potentially providing a non-invasive option for military personnel and others with these conditions. As researchers continue studying HBOT’s effects on the brain, the chance for improved treatments looks promising.

Source

Harch, P. (2012, January 1). A Phase I Study of Low-Pressure Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Blast-Induced Post-Concussion Syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/neu.2011.1895