Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a medical condition that can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning and occurs as a result of experiencing a jolt or blow to one’s head. TBIs are divided into three categories based on their severity: mild TBIs (concussions), moderate TBIs and severe TBIs. The brain is the most complex organ in the body and when it suffers an injury, the extents of its effects are often initially unknown. The specific symptoms that manifest as a result of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy encompasses breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. Orville Cunningham first used it in American in the early 20th century. Emerson Hospital explains “Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is a treatment in which you breathe 100 percent pure oxygen while laying inside a pressurized chamber made of clear acrylic.” The air pressure in the chamber is approximately two and a half times greater than normal air pressure in the atmosphere. The high-pressure dose of oxygen activates white blood cells in one’s body and helps to deliver more oxygen to one’s organs and tissues, which promotes healing and fights off infection. HBO therapy has been approved as an effective method of treatment for more than a dozen conditions. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, these can range from burns to bone diseases:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Cyanide poisoning
- Crush injuries
- Gas gangrene (a form of gangrene in which gas collects in tissues)
- Decompression sickness
- Acute or traumatic inadequate blood flow in the arteries
- Compromised skin grafts and flaps
- Infection in a bone (osteomyelitis)
- Delayed radiation injury
- Flesh-eating disease (also called necrotizing soft tissue infection)
- Air or gas bubble trapped in a blood vessel (air or gas embolism)
- Chronic infection called actinomycosis
- Diabetic wounds that are not healing properly
Breathing oxygen at this concentration for extended periods of time can be toxic, so HBO therapy sessions are limited to no more than two hours long. The United States Department of Defense commissioned five studies to determine the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in treating post-concussion syndrome after mild TBIs in service members. The findings, presented to the U.S. Senate in the 2018 report, stated that there was no statistically significant benefit to HBO therapy when compared to the placebo. While in theory the idea of using HBO therapy may improve one’s TBI recovery process, it is not officially recognized as an effective method of treatment for traumatic brain injuries.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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