Exciting Research - Regeneration of Nerve Fibers in the Brain

By Lisa St. John, M.S.
Exciting Research - Regeneration of Nerve Fibers in the Brain
Over the last several years, there has been exciting new research showing that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can heal damaged brain tissue after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

For example, Dr. Sigal Tal and the team at the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel, studied 15 patients with post-concussion syndrome (PPCS) from TBI who were treated with hyperbaric medicine. Imaging showed that HBOT stimulated the brain to repair injuries from TBI.

As background, PPCS is often a debilitating injury for 10 to 20% of those patients who have suffered a TBI. Symptoms often include headaches, sleep problems, cognitive impairment including memory loss, focus issues, confusion, fatigue, and behavioral and mood changes, to name just a few.

The purpose of Dr. Tal’s study was to assess the neurotherapeutic effects of HBOT on prolonged PPCS, using brain imaging*. The patients’ injuries occurred from 6 months to 27 years prior to the study and their ages ranged from 21-70. Of the patients, seven were female and eight were male. Dr. Tal’s team evaluated patients before treatment, who then received 60 sessions of HBOT over 60 consecutive days. Patients entered a hyperbaric chamber, where they received 100% oxygen at 2.0 ATA or absolute atmospheres. His team then evaluated patients after their treatment regimen.

The results showed that HBOT stimulates the brain to repair itself, including:

  • Growing new blood vessels
  • Repairing gray matter (which contains nerve cell bodies)
  • Repairing white matter (which are the filaments that connect cell bodies and carry messages between nerve cells)

The research found that HBOT provided a number of improvements:

  • Increased information processing speed and global cognitive scores
  • Improved verbal and nonverbal memory
  • Improved executive function
  • Improved verbal processing speeds
  • Increased cerebral blood flow and volume

There have been a number of such studies, and yet we need much more research on the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on the brain. This study by Dr. Tal is an extremely important, well designed and well executed study that begins to show the potential healing properties of HBOT on the brain. It also gives hope to the families and many patients suffering from PPCS, patients who have few other options for healing their brains and functioning normally again.

  1. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Diminish Fibromyalgia Syndrome – Prospective Clinical Trial. (By Sigal Tal, Amir Hadanny, Efrat Sasson, Gil Suzin, and Shai Efrati.)
  2. HBOT can induce cerebral angiogenesis and recovery of brain microstructure in patients with chronic cognitive impairments due to TBI months to years after the acute injury. The increased integrity of brain fibers correlates with the functional cognitive improvement. The mechanism by which HBOT can induce brain neuroplasticity can be demonstrated by highly sensitive perfusion MRI and DTI. Further studies, using DTI - MRI, are needed in order to gain better understanding of the neuroplasticity effect of HBOT in a larger cohort of patients with different types of brain injuries

Lisa St. John, M.S.
Lisa St. John, M.S.
Clinic Director and Founder

Lisa is our Clinic Director and Founder. She earned her Master’s degree from Harvard University, completed a Fellowship at Stanford University, and has spent the last 30 years working in the healthcare field.

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