A new study published in PLOS one by Boussi-Gross et al. shows great promise for post concussion disorder or traumatic brain injury. The study entitled, "Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Improve Post Concussion Syndrome Years after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury - Randomized Prospective Trial" can be found at www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0079995
Concussion causes diffuse brain injury leading to chronic headache and lasting cognitive impairments such as increased processing times, memory loss, and difficulty learning. This can be extremely difficult for affected individuals and families as it interferes with all aspects of life including work and school performance.
The brain consumes 20% of the oxygen and 25% of the glucose that enters the body even though it is only 10% of the body weight. This rapid metabolic rate only fuels about 5-10% of the total neuronal activity in the brain at any given time. More than any other organ, the brain depends on oxygen to metabolize glucose into usable energy. More demand is placed on this already high metabolic rate in the case of diffuse injury. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy likely provide the additional oxygen to fuel the extra energy needed for repair. The therapy has also been shown to promote angiogenesis (building new blood vessels) which can be of great help to the repair processes.
Perhaps the most promising findings in this study were the improvements in brain function and quality of life after years of chronic impairment.
Cancer is rapidly dividing cells out of normal control. Part of being out of control, the cells actually lose some of the enzymes that are required to fully metabolize nutrients using oxygen. However, I would not want anyone to depend on hyperbaric oxygen to stop cancer. We have had good success helping repair tissue after chemo and radiation. I hope that is helpful
3 years later we have successfully treated many patients with concussion/post concussion disorder. In our clinic we have found the following to be the most common complaints: chronic daily headache, difficulty with attention and focus, increased emotional liability, easily angered or frustrated, "it hurts to think", memory loss, takes more time to think, nausea, motion sickness, fatigue and sensitivity to mild jarring such as going over speed bumps. In almost every case we have found benefit with hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Sometimes patients need additional support with medications but oxygen treatments have been most helpful. We feel that the increased oxygen for one hour supports the brain and allows healing that otherwise cannot take place in the most highly metabolic demanding organ in our bodies that struggles to function and repair itself simultaneously.