Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Ineffective After Concussions?
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, exposure to a high oxygen environment, may not minimize concussion symptoms following a mild traumatic brain injury as experts had previously hoped, according to a research team from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science Department of Neurology.
David Cifu, M.D., chair and Herman J. Flax M.D., Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at VCU, served as corresponding author of the research.
In the past six years, the incidence of traumatic brain injury among deployed service members has increased by approximately 117 percent. Preliminary findings have shown that service members and veterans from the current Middle East conflicts may experience a higher incidence of post-concussion syndrome at three months and one year compared to civilians.
The specific injuries related to mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) have been challenging to treat and researchers have been working to uncover potential therapies, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). When an individual is exposed to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, there is an increase in oxygenation of the blood and tissues, but what occurs in traumatic brain injury is still not fully proven or understood scientifically.
In a prospective study the team from the VCU School of Medicine, the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science Department of Neurology examined 50 military service members with at least one combat-related, mild traumatic brain injury to determine the effects of 2.4 atmospheres absolute hyperbaric oxygen on their post-concussion symptoms. During an eight-week period, each subject received 30 sessions of either room air, or the high oxygen environment of the hyperbaric chamber. They found that the “hyperbaric oxygen at 2.4 atmospheres absolute had no effect on the post-concussive symptoms after mild TBI.”
“This is the first of three coordinated clinical trials that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have completed to explore whether HBOT may play a role in returning wounded warriors with brain injury to wellness and troop readiness, in response to political and public pressures to use these types of technologies,” Cifu was quoted saying.
“This first controlled trial demonstrates that HBOT itself had no significant effect on symptoms of combat-related mTBI, but it's likely that some of the other factors associated with the intensive period of study (nurturing environment, health care professional’s attention, relatively low stress) did benefit the service members. It’s another piece to the puzzle of mTBI and combat injury that we need to optimize care for these heroes” Cifu continued.
According to Cifu, a larger, multicenter, randomized clinical trial is needed to further explore this area.
Source: Journal of Neurotrauma, December 2012