Imagine suffering major brain damage or permanent disability. Devastating effects, such as motor dysfunction and memory loss, often cannot be treated, leaving victims and their families feeling hopeless.
But what if you could literally breathe new life into your body, even years after the initial injury? With the aid of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), this medical miracle is one step closer to reality.
HBOT is not a new invention, though the device used, an oxygen chamber, looks pretty futuristic. Dr. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and fellow researchers have shown just how effective the technology can be in a study published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.
HBOT has the potential to restore some neurological function in brain tissue that appears to be permanently damaged. In Efrati's study, neuronal activity increased after just two months of HBOT in post-stroke patients whose condition was not improving.
"It is now understood that many brain disorders are related to inefficient energy supply to the brain," Efrati explained in a press release. "HBOT treatment could right such metabolic abnormalities before the onset of full dementia, where there is still potential for recovery."
How Does HBOT Work?
Patients are placed in a high-pressure chamber that circulates oxygen. The high levels of oxygen in the chamber greatly increase oxygen levels in the body, giving the brain the resources it needs to function.
Through CT and SPECT scans, the Israeli researchers saw that HBOT replenished neurons impacted by metabolic dysfunction. They concluded that energy from HBOT can repair neuronal connections and re-energize dormant neurons.
The technology essentially gives the brain a much-needed wake-up call, even in cases of chronic neurological deficiencies.
What Can HBOT Treat?
HBOT has been reported to repair some of the damage and side effects caused by:
What Does This Mean for Patients?
HBOT technology could offer a new outlook on life to countless people suffering from neurological disorders. The ability to walk, talk, and experience increased sensation again makes for more autonomy in the lives of those who haven’t known this type of freedom for years.
Should studies of HBOT continue to yield positive results, more people will be able to live full, active lives.