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Numerous studies have reported the effectiveness of HBOT on stroke patients. For instance, a recent study demonstrated that 86% of post-stroke patients in the chronic stage experienced significant neurocognitive improvements when treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

According to the American Heart Association report, on average, every 3 minutes 15 seconds, someone dies due to a stroke in the United States. Even if someone survives the chronic stroke, they experience post-stroke associated long-term disabilities such as cognitive deficits, motor impairments, and speech disorders, which make their daily lives more challenging.

Though there are several effective stroke treatments, they often have limited success. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) offers new hope to stroke patients to reclaim their lives with fast recovery.

What is a Stroke?

Normally, your brain consumes 20% of the oxygen you breathe to function properly. Your blood vessels supply oxygen and essential nutrients to all brain parts.

However, when a blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked by something or ruptures, it causes poor oxygen supply. As a result, brain cells begin to die in minutes. This condition is called stroke.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and 5th leading cause of death in the US.

 

Causes of Stroke

The cause of stroke depends on the type of stroke a patient has. The following are three main types of strokes:

  1. Ischemic stroke: It occurs due to the blockage of blood vessels, which results in reduced blood flow to the brain and causes stroke. A blood clot or fat plaque causes this blockage.

  2. Hemorrhagic stroke: It occurs due to blood vessel rupture. When a blood vessel ruptures in the brain, the blood leaks through it, puts excessive pressure on brain cells, and causes brain cell and tissue damage

  3. Transient ischemic attack (TIA): A blood clot causes a temporary blockage to a blood vessel, leading to brain damage.

 

Common Symptoms and Long-Term Side Effects of a Stroke

Some of the common symptoms and long term effects of stroke include:

  • Slurred speech

  • Difficulty in walking

  • Complete or partial paralysis

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Vision problems and droopy eyelids

  • Seizures

  • Loss of balance or coordination

  • Weakness or numbness in one or both arms

  • Sudden or severe headache

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Help?

Since stroke occurs due to a lack of oxygen supply to the brain, HBOT works to improve the oxygen supply to the damaged areas of the brain. HBOT can improve your recovery process and reduce the need for prolonged rehabilitation in the following ways:

It should be noted that the effects of HBOT may vary from patient to patient. Like every individual is unique and every stroke is different, the use of HBOT alone or as adjunct therapy (in combination with other stroke treatments) may give different results. Therefore, some patients may benefit from HBOT while some do not, depending on the type of stroke and location of the brain damage.

 

References

  1. Hadanny, A., Rittblat, M., Bitterman, M., May-Raz, I., Suzin, G., Boussi-Gross, R., ... & Efrati, S. (2020). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves neurocognitive functions of post-stroke patients–a retrospective analysis. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 38(1), 93-107. DOI: 10.3233/RNN-190959

  2. Golan, H., Makogon, B., Volkov, O., Smolyakov, Y., Hadanny, A., & Efrati, S. (2020). Imaging-based predictors for hyperbaric oxygen therapy outcome in post-stroke patients. Report 1. Medical Hypotheses, 136, 109510. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2019.109510

  3. Bennett, M. H., Weibel, S., Wasiak, J., Schnabel, A., French, C., & Kranke, P. (2014). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for acute ischaemic stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11). https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004954.pub3

  4. Veltkamp, R. , Siebing, D.A. , Sun, L. , Heiland, S. , Bieber, K. , Marti, H.H. ,... Schwaninger, M. (2005). Hyperbaric oxygen reduces blood-brain barrier damage and edema after transient focal cerebral ischemia. Stroke; A Journal of Cerebral Circulation, 36(8), 1679–1683. 10.1161/01.STR.0000173408.94728.79

  5. Efrati, S. , Fishlev, G. , Bechor, Y. , Volkov, O. , Bergan, J. , Kliakhandler, K. ,... Golan, H. (2013). Hyperbaric oxygen induces late neuroplasticity in post-stroke patients–randomized, prospective trial. PloS One, 8(1), e53716. 10.1371/journal.pone.0053716

  6. Efrati, S. , & Ben-Jacob, E. (2014). Reflections on the neurotherapeutic effects of hyperbaric oxygen. Expert Review in Neurotherapeutics, 14(3), 233–236. 10.1586/14737175.2014.884928

  7. Churchill, S. , Weaver, L.K. , Deru, K. , Russo, A.A. , Handrahan, D. , Orrison, W.W. Jr ,... Elwell, H.A. (2013). A prospective trial of hyperbaric oxygen for chronic sequelae after brain injury (HYBOBI. Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine: Journal of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc, 40(2), 165–193.

  8. Ding, Z., Tong, W. C., Lu, X., & Peng, P. (2014). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Acute Ischemic Stroke: A Review. Interventional Neurology, 2(4), 201-211. https://doi.org/10.1159/000362677

  9. Calvert, J. W., Cahill, J., & Zhang, J. H. (2007). Hyperbaric oxygen and cerebral physiology. Neurological research, 29(2), 132-141. https://doi.org/10.1179/016164107X174156

  10. Schmutz, J., Engelter, S., Peters, N., Schmucki, P., & Gelsomino, M. (2023). Hyperbaric Oxygen in Post-Stroke Patients: A Feasibility Study. Clinical and Translational Neuroscience, 7(4), 41. https://doi.org/10.3390/ctn7040041

  11. Li, X., Lu, L., Min, Y., Fu, X., Guo, K., Yang, W., ... & Huang, Z. (2024). Efficacy and safety of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in acute ischaemic stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC neurology, 24(1), 55. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-024-03555-w

  12. Gonzales-Portillo, B., Lippert, T., Nguyen, H., Lee, Y., & Borlongan, C. V. (2019). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: A new look on treating stroke and traumatic brain injury. Brain Circulation, 5(3), 101-105. https://doi.org/10.4103/bc.bc_31_19

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