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Head injury and concussion

Head Injury

Recent scientific research has demonstrated that while the core-area of the damaged brain tissue may be irreversibly damaged, there is an area surrounding this tissue that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can restore and these neurons (brain/nerve cells) can re-establish their function.

By breathing pure oxygen under higher pressure such as during hyperbaric oxygen therapy the oxygen molecules are literally forced deep in the areas of poor circulation reviving the “sleeping” nerve cells and reestablishing brain function. The success of this neuro-rehabilitation is higher in early stages after the brain injury, although good results can be achieved even years after.

Treatment of brain damage is one of the most controversial topics in hyperbaric medical community. While oxygen is the most important building block in brain rehabilitation after injury, and there is no doubt of its benefit when treating carbon monoxide, cyanide or other types of poisoning, there remains large debate when traumatic brain injury, stroke, coma, autism, cerebral palsy or other neurological disorders are discussed.

Although volumes or scientific peer reviewed literature has been published on the topic of hyperbaric oxygen in treatment of brain injury and most of that in favor for its benefits listed below, the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society Committee has not listed its treatment of medically approved indications for insurance reimbursement.


Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Therapy in treatment of Neurological disorders:

  • hyperbaric oxygen provides immediate high supply for oxygen debt in the brain therefore stopping the brain damage and preserving healthy neural tissue from secondary damage
  • Hyperbaric oxygen improves oxygenation of all brain tissues therefore reducing the further damage
  • Hyperbaric oxygen reduces swelling or cerebral edema and rise of intracranial pressure as a consequence of brain damage
  • Hyperbaric oxygen improves microcirculation in the brain and brain metabolism
  • Hyperbaric oxygen improves neural and mental function
  • Hyperbaric oxgyen improves motor function and coordination
  • Hyperbaric oxgyen reduces mortality after brain injury
  • Hyperbaric oxygen improves quality of life in people suffering from brain injury
  • preconditioning with hyperbaric oxygen plays an important role in protecting brain and heart from possible damage (post  surgery, high altitude exposure, etc.)
Further readings:
  1. Shi XY, Tang ZQ, Sun D, He XJ.: Evaluation of hyperbaric oxygen treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders following traumatic brain injury, Chin Med J (Engl). 2006 Dec 5;119(23):1978-82.
  2. Al-Waili NS, Butler GJ, Beale J, Abdullah MS, Hamilton RW, Lee BY, Lucus P, Allen MW, Petrillo RL, Carrey Z, Finkelstein M.: Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of patients with cerebral stroke, brain trauma, and neurologic disease. Adv Ther. 2005 Nov-Dec;22(6):659-78. Review.
  3. Golden ZL, Neubauer R, Golden CJ, Greene L, Marsh J, Mleko A.:Improvement in cerebral metabolism in chronic brain injury after hyperbaric oxygen therapy.; Int J Neurosci. 2002 Feb;112(2):119-31.
  4. Neubauer RA, James P.: Cerebral oxygenation and the recoverable brain.; Neurol Res. 1998;20 Suppl 1:S33-6.
  5. Neubauer RA, Gottlieb SF, Pevsner NH.: Hyperbaric oxygen for treatment of closed head injury.; South Med J. 1994 Sep;87(9):933-6.
  6. Rockswold SB, Rockswold GL, Defillo A.: Hyperbaric oxygen in traumatic brain injury.; Neurol Res. 2007 Mar;29(2):162-72. Review.
  7. Hu SL, Hu R, Li F, Liu Z, Xia YZ, Cui GY, Feng H.: Hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning protects against traumatic brain injury at high altitude.; Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2008;105:191-6.
  8. Fischer BR, Speckmann EJ, Greiner C, Gorji A, Wölfer J, Wassmann H.:Hyperbaric oxygen in neurosurgery.; Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2009 Apr;151(4):415-8. Epub 2009 Mar 11.
  9. Voigt C, Förschler A, Jaeger M, Meixensberger J, Küppers-Tiedt L, Schuhmann MU.: Protective effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on experimental brain contusions.; Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2008;102:441-5.
  10. Lin JW, Tsai JT, Lee LM, Lin CM, Hung CC, Hung KS, Chen WY, Wei L, Ko CP, Su YK, Chiu WT.: Effect of hyperbaric oxygen on patients with traumatic brain injury.; Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2008;101:145-9.

Concussion recovery 
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 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.