Research Shows that HBOT Improves Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Concussion Syndrome Outcomes

Research Shows that HBOT Improves Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Concussion Syndrome Outcomes

Recently, numerous studies have shown with brain imaging that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) decreases the symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-concussive syndrome.[1] These studies have helped us gain a deeper understanding of the physiological effects of HBOT on the brain. Specifically, they have demonstrated that HBOT stimulates neuroplasticity, angiogenesis, cerebral metabolism, and stem cell regeneration and mobilization. Using computerized cognitive evaluations, they demonstrated that HBOT also measurably improved cognition, mood, quality of life, memory, executive function, attention, visual as well as spatial and motor skills. They drove improvements across cognitive, psycho-social and quality of life indices.

Here are three studies that highlight the impact of HBOT treatment on TBI and post-concussive syndrome:

Boussi-Gross Study [1]. Conducted in 2013, this study evaluated 56 patients using SPECT brain imaging. Researchers also evaluated patients on several other indexes: The Information Processing Speed Index, Attention-related index, Memory-related index, and Executive function Index. In short, these patients showed significant improvements in cognitive function and quality of life (QOL). Results from SPECT imaging correlated these cognitive improvements in planning, organization, initiation and behavior regulation with improved brain activity. Data showed that HBOT induced neuroplasticity in the brain of patients with impaired brain functions and impaired QOL, leading to repair of the brain and improved QOL.

Hadanny Study [2]. In 2018, Hadanny et al., measured neurocognitive damage in 154 patients suffering from TBI. The study measured neurocognitive damage in these patients, both pre- and post-HBOT, using computerized cognitive evaluations and brain SPECT imaging. These evaluations showed that HBOT induced improvements in all measured areas of cognitive function. The largest measurable improvements were shown for memory, attention and executive function, followed by visual, spatial and motor skills. They found a strong correlation between these improvements and increased brain activity as shown through brain imaging.

Harch Study [3]. In 2017, Dr. Harch et al., studied 29 United States military veterans with mild TBI, post-concussive syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. Prior to the study, subjects reported problems with thinking, low energy, headaches, depression, mood volatility, short term memory loss and disrupted sleep. The veterans in the study experienced significant improvement in depression, anxiety, post-concussive symptoms, physical and emotional functioning and self assessed cognition. Of twelve patients who expressed suicidal ideation before treatment, ten no longer expressed suicidal thoughts after their HBOT treatments.

The Defense and and Veterans Affairs departments pointed out as of August 2019, 20 veterans commit suicide each day. Any tool shown in a study to reduce suicidal ideation by over 80% would seem worth trying. Abnormal blood flow observed in the white matter of veterans’ brains changed significantly as a result of HBOT. Researchers defined the white matter as a region of interest (ROI) in 8 veterans’ brains. These veterans showed improvements in this ROI by 75%. They improved so much that blood flow in these areas became statistically indistinguishable from that of the Control group (patients who entered the study without restricted blood flow). Six months after treatment, most veterans continued to demonstrate improvement in their symptoms. Out of 18 subjects, there was further improvement in 14, deterioration in 3 and no change in 1, for an overall improvement of 78%.

Overall, studies show that HBOT Improves both outcomes and survival.

At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we have treated physician-referred patients with TBI and post concussive syndrome (PCS) for over 20 years. We have most commonly treated patients who have experienced memory loss, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, sleep disturbances, inability to perform routine tasks and mood volatility. Some patients also presented other QOL, cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms. Most of our treated patients with TBI and/or PCS experienced significant improvements, such as the ability to return to work and school, or to return home to care for family members. Most all of our patients have returned to a much higher level of functioning after their treatment regimens with HBOT.

Although multiple studies that are both valid and reliable document improvements for patients who have received HBOT, some still dismiss HBOT as a viable treatment. However, physicians who have referred their patients to Bay Area Hyperbarics have seen significant improvement and have been very happy with their physician-referred treatment regimen.
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How Hyperbaric Therapy Helps
  • Increases cerebral blood flow
  • Decreases cerebral edema
  • Maintains the blood-brain barrier
  • Increases tissue oxygenation
  • Suppresses inflammation
  • Decreases apoptosis
  • Inhibits neuronal death
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Improved quality of life
  • Activates angiogenesis
  • Reactivates quiescent neurons
  • Forms new axonal connections
  • Creates synapses
  • Stimulates stem cell production and mobilization
For more details on how HBOT works, see How it works.
Considering if HBOT is appropriate for your patient?

Talk to us, and we’ll help evaluate if HBOT is right for your patient.

Research on Hyperbaric Therapy

Several studies highlight benefits of HBOT in healing post-concussion syndrome and traumatic brain injury:

  1. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Improve Post Concussion Syndrome Years after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury - Randomized Prospective Trial. Boussi-Gross, et al. 2013. tab arrow 1

  2. Effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on chronic neurocognitive deficits of post-traumatic brain injury patients: retrospective analysis. Haddany, et al, 2018. tab arrow 2

  3. Case control study: Hyperbaric oxygen treatment of mild traumatic brain injury persistent post-concussion syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. Harch et al, 2017.  tab arrow 3

  4. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Induce Angiogenesis and Regeneration of Nerve Fibers in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients. Tal, et al, 2017.  tab arrow 4

  5. Hyperbaric oxygen may induce angiogenesis in patients suffering from prolonged post-concussion syndrome due to traumatic brain injury. Tal, Hadanny, et al. 2015.   tab arrow 5

  6. CD34+/CD45-dim stem cell mobilization by hyperbaric oxygen – changes with oxygen dosage. Heyboer, Marvin, et al. 2014. Vadas, et al, 2017.  tab arrow 6

  7. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for traumatic brain injury: bench-to-bedside. Hu, Qin, et al. 2016. tab arrow 7

  8. Hyperbaric Oxygen Environment Can Enhance Brain Activity and Multitasking Performance. Vadas, Dor, et al. 2017.  tab arrow 8

  9. A Dual Role for Hyperbaric Oxygen in Stroke Neuroprotection: Preconditioning of the Brain and Stem Cells. Liska, Grant M, et al. 2018.  tab arrow 9

  10. Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of patients with cerebral stroke, brain trauma, and neurologic disease. Al-Walli NS, et al. 2005.   Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of patients with cerebral stroke, brain trauma, and neurologic disease.

  11. Hyperbaric side effects in a traumatic brain injury randomized clinical trial. Wolf EG, et al. 2012.   tab arrow 11

Patients’ Experiences

Elliot, 17
After a second concussion, Elliot could not remain in school. HBOT healed him.
Elliot was in high school when he had his second concussion caused during football when he collided with another players’ head and helmet. He didn’t recover from this concussion as he had with the first one. After two months, he stopped going to school. Maintaining a regular schedule just became too difficult given his inability to concentrate, his memory loss and even reading became too difficult due to his blurry vision. He came to Bay Area Hyperbarics five months after his concussion with the above issues and depression, intermittent fatigue, sleep disturbances, and headaches. His parents tried several different therapies, diet changes, supplements and migraine medications. He was supervised by a psychiatrist and on prescription anti-anxiety meds and took medication for depression. He was also receiving acupuncture. It took two months of hyperbaric therapy to heal his brain well enough to return to school. He seemed like a different person when he left our clinic. He was smiling and walked with a healthy gait. However, he did not return to play football as recommended by his neurologist.
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Jeremy, 27-year-old concussion victim
Jeremy, 27
HBOT improved his ability to multitask after multiple traumatic brain injuries.
Jeremy is a high functioning big data management engineer in Silicon Valley. He loved surfing, mountain biking, and taking his dog with him. Jeremy had a history of head injuries from sports,including years of soccer headers, football injuries and mountain biking accidents. Jeremy had come in to Bay Area Hyperbarics during high school when he found he had difficulty keeping up in his AP math classes. He was thinking of dropping out of AP math but his mother brought him in to us for HBOT. HBOT was able to help him enough that he stayed in AP math and graduated with honors. Jeremy graduated high school and went on to a prestigious university to become an engineer and linguist. Eleven years after we first saw him, Jeremy brought himself into our clinic for a second time. He was having problems keeping up with the high demands of his job. He said he had to maintain concentration on many variables at the same time while solving complex problems. He feared he was having some days where he just could not perform up to his expectations. He said he needed more focus, better memory and more energy as he also had bouts of fatigue. He was treated using the Haddany study protocol (see the study cited above). Jeremy came back to visit us after finishing his HBOT treatments. He told us he was extremely pleased with his ability to perform now with greater ease, much more quickly, and he finds that answers come to him quicker. He says his energy has improved, not only at work, but also with his mountain biking.
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Marian, 62-year-old woman with concussion
Marian, 62
Hyperbaric therapy returned Marian to teaching acupuncture.
Marian had taught acupuncture for 12 years to students in a prestigious acupuncture school. She loved teaching and was devoted to her students. One day a reckless driver drove into Marian’s car so fast itresulted in multiple injuries including a head injury. She recovered from her other injuries but her head “just wasn’t right”. She came to Bay Area Hyperbarics after 6 months of biofeedback, acupuncture and other therapies. She was depressed and was thinking of early retirement because she said she couldn’t teach students with her sluggish brain. She complained about piles of paper stacked around her house that she couldn’t sort through. She was plagued with intense emotional swings. She also was so anxious that she would sit in our waiting room and cry while working at “pulling herself together to drive home”. She had become anxious of driving. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy repaired her brain and resolved her emotional volatility, anxiety, depression, and “sluggish brain”. She said she could think normally again. She returned to full time work teaching her students again.
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We help evaluate if HBOT is appropriate

Our medical team will work with you to evaluate if hyperbaric medicine is appropriate for your patient and covered by insurance.

Start HBOT, if appropriate

If our discussion concludes that HBOT is right for your patient, we can get started on treating them.

We’re woman-owned and the longest running
independent hyperbaric clinic in the country.

We’re woman-owned and the longest running independent hyperbaric clinic in the US.

Nearing 25 Years of Experience

Our highly experienced physicians and technicians have provided almost 100,000 treatments since we opened our doors in 1998.

Pain-free. Non-invasive. Relaxing.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a painless, relaxing and non-invasive treatment. Our patients often tell us they feel relaxed and alert after their treatment.

Certified & Approved

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is approved by the American Medical Association, Medicare, the FDA, the Mayo Clinic, and insurance companies to treat a variety of conditions.

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