Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy the New Treatment for Brain Injuries?

Picture of a brain scan

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has shown promising results as a new method of treating traumatic brain injury. Currently approved only to treat divers with decompression sickness, oxygen therapy is used to flood the brain with oxygen and promote healing and healthy brain function. At this point, the evidence supporting the practice remains largely anecdotal, with few actual studies to back it up.

The U.S Department of Defense has decided to test these anecdotes with a study, hoping to determine if hyperbaric oxygen therapy is really the next evolution in treating traumatic brain injury. The study was broken into three groups: the first received increased air pressure and oxygen, the second received increased air pressure and no oxygen and the third received no air pressure and no oxygen.

All groups showed signs of improvement, but not at sufficiently different rates. The results could not conclusively state that the hyperbaric oxygen treatment was the reason for the improvement among the subjects. The researchers stated that taking a break from military duty, and recovering in a calm, nurturing environment, could also be a contributing factor.

In the scientific community, one study is hardly enough to be conclusive. This is a relatively new and experimental treatment. Until a more definitive study is produced, the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy remain largely theoretical.

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