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Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment May Restore Lost Brain Function for TBI Patients

Patients suffering significant brain damage from stroke or TBI typically reach a plateau of recovery, beyond which no amount of therapy appears to help. Now there may be a therapy to jump start recovery in such patients years after they reached their plateau. Dr. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and colleagues at the Sagol School of Neuroscience have just demonstrated that placing stroke patients in hyperbaric oxygen chambers reinvigorates dormant neurons years after their recovery stopped.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) increases brain oxygen ten times normal. Dr. Efrati’s analysis of brain imaging showed significantly increased neuronal activity after a two-month period of HBOT treatment in stroke patients compared to control periods of non-treatment. Remarkably the patients with increase in metabolic brain activity showed improvements such as a reversal of paralysis, increased sensation, and renewed use of language. Dr. Efrati has not tried HBOT on chronic TBI patients, but in principal HBOT should work for them. Hopefully his research group or another research group will follow up on TBI patients to see if HBOT has the same dramatic effect in jump starting stalled recovery.