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Brain Injury Healing with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - O2 WNY
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Brain Injury (and how HBOT can help!)

The brain, for the most part, is who we are.  It is our mission control, so when something happens to it, it can affect every part of the body. When there is injury to the brain, it can be a life changing event. 

There are a variety of brain injuries that can occur. When a person incurs a brain injury, it is either from an external force, like hitting your head during a fall, or an internal one, like a stroke. 

There are two major categories of brain injury: Acquired Brain Injury or ABI describes all the head injuries that would take place after birth. This would include: stroke, heart attack, poisoning, tumor growth, drug abuse, meningitis, encephalitis and other infections. 

A Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI for short, is a subset of ABI and happens when the brain tissue is torn by violent impact to the cranium. This could be from something like a fall, a car crash, or a sports injury. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types.

ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURIES & TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES INCLUDE:

  1. Anoxic Brain Injury

According to Physiology.org, “The function of the mammalian brain depends on a continuous supply of O2 and glucose. When the brain no longer receives either of these substances, loss of function occurs quickly and viability is endangered when the lack of substrates persists for more than a few minutes. “

In other words, part of your brain dies or you could die if you have been deprived of oxygen long enough. Anoxic brain injury is a type of brain injury that isn’t usually caused by a blow to the head. Instead, anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. Left without oxygen for too long, neural cells begin to die through a process called apoptosis. We can’t live for very long without oxygen, so when we are deprived of it, for even a limited amount of time, that  deprivation can cause severe loss of brain function. Speech, vision, personality and memory can be affected.

What could cause an anoxic brain injury? Carbon monoxide is the most common cause of anoxic brain injury but there are several others. Think of a near drowning event or a stroke. Choking, suffocation or something else that is getting far too familiar emergency rooms everywhere a drug overdose.   

ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURIES & TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES INCLUDE:

  1. Anoxic Brain Injury

According to Physiology.org, “The function of the mammalian brain depends on a continuous supply of O2 and glucose. When the brain no longer receives either of these substances, loss of function occurs quickly and viability is endangered when the lack of substrates persists for more than a few minutes. “

In other words, part of your brain dies or you could die if you have been deprived of oxygen long enough. Anoxic brain injury is a type of brain injury that isn’t usually caused by a blow to the head. Instead, anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. Left without oxygen for too long, neural cells begin to die through a process called apoptosis. We can’t live for very long without oxygen, so when we are deprived of it, for even a limited amount of time, that  deprivation can cause severe loss of brain function. Speech, vision, personality and memory can be affected.

What could cause an anoxic brain injury? Carbon monoxide is the most common cause of anoxic brain injury but there are several others. Think of a near drowning event or a stroke. Choking, suffocation or something else that is getting far too familiar emergency rooms everywhere a drug overdose.

  1. Contusion

A contusion is the medical term for a bruise. We have all had them. They usually occur as a result of a direct blow or impact from a fall, or collision. It’s the injured body tissue that results from ruptured blood capillaries. This type of injury can also affect other areas of the body. For example, if you fell off a ladder, you might notice a contusion in the affected area within a day or less. However, a brain contusion refers to a bruise on cerebral tissue, and is considered to be a form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Depending on the severity of a contusion, a patient may need to seek medical treatment to help resolve the injury to the brain.

  1. Concussion

A concussion is a type of TBI. It’s been in the news a lot with reference to NFL players suffering from repeated head trauma. With any blow to the head, the possibility of a concussion is present. Concussions and brain contusions often walk hand in hand. When someone suffers from a concussion, he or she may also suffer from several cerebral contusions as well. Whether mild or severe, these need to be evaluated and treated, if necessary, by an expert medical professional. It’s not something you want to brush off and not have examined. The long-term effects can be devastating and degrade one’s quality of life.

  1. Infection

There are a variety of brain infections or forms of encephalitis, stemming from a virus,  parasite, or mosquito or tick borne infection. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, many cases of encephalitis in the United States are a result of the herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, as well as rabies and West Nile virus, both of which could be caused by an animal bite. Initial treatment involves antibiotic or antiviral medications, and outcome generally depends on the particular infectious agent involved, the severity of the illness, and how quickly treatment is given. 

The severity of brain damage can vary with the type of brain injury. A mild brain injury may be temporary, causing headaches, confusion, memory problems, and/or nausea. With a moderate brain injury, symptoms can last longer and be more pronounced. Most mild/moderate patients make a good recovery, although some problems may persist.

With a severe brain injury, the person may suffer life-changing and debilitating problems: cognitive, behavioral, and physical disabilities. Comatose or minimally responsive patients may remain dependent on the care of others for the rest of their lives. 

Treatment for Brain Injuries – HBOT

Anyone who has a head or brain injury needs immediate medical attention. Assessment of the injury –  through a neurological exam, neuroimaging testing such as MRI or CT scans, and neuropsychological assessments – is critical to a correct diagnosis and determining the treatment needed to stabilize the patient to prevent further injury, and contain or minimize the damage.

In the 1990s, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) pioneers like Dr. Paul Harch and Dr. Richard Neubauer began successfully treating a vast range of brain injuries with hyperbaric oxygen. Eventually, this experience in humans with brain injuries was duplicated in an animal model that was published by Dr. Harch in October 2007

(Brain Research, 2007; 1174:120‐9). In the history of hyperbaric medicine over

30 animal studies and 25-30 human studies have been published on HBOT for brain injuries. Results are overwhelmingly positive.

They found that the neurological functions and life quality of all patients receiving HBOT were significantly improved following the HBOT sessions. 

For brain injured patients, HBOT’s typical results are:

  • Faster Overall Recovery
  • Improved Vision and Speech
  • Reduced Paralysis
  • Accelerated Gross/Fine Motor Skills Recovery
  • Increased Brain Tissue Recovery
  • Stimulated Creation of Blood Vessels (to Reclaim Damaged Brain Tissue)
  • Creation of New Brain Cells
  • Creation of New Brain Connections
  • Alleviated Spasticity

A recent human study conducted by Dr. Shai Efrati has proven positive results in a more “clinically approved”, prospective, randomized, controlled trial. They found that the neurological functions and life quality of all patients receiving HBOT were significantly improved following the HBOT sessions. The results indicate that HBOT can lead to significant neurological improvements even at chronic late stages – years after initial injury.

Interested in learning more? The experts at Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy of

Western New York can answer your questions and address any concerns you

may have. Visit us at www.o2wny.com or call us: (585) 426-8969