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The use of hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of post stroke patients can improve the long-term outcomes for patients with neurological injuries and resulting disabilities. Treatments are provided within a range of 1.5 to 2.0 atmospheres of pressure for a minimum of 40, 90-minute long treatments. Some patients may require more treatments to achieve optimal recovery.
The role of hyperbaric oxygen in restoring cerebral micro-circulation is well-established in the scientific literature. Restoring oxygen delivery to damage tissues permits further healing and the reversing of neurological damage. How hyperbaric medicine is helpful in the treatment of stroke (cerebral ischemia) is succinctly outlined in the “Textbook of Hyperbaric Medicine, J. J. Kain, copyright 2009” as follows:
1. Oxygen dissolved in plasma under pressure raises the partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood and can nourish the tissues even in the absence of red blood cells (Boerema et al 1959).
2. Oxygen can diffuse extravascularly. Diffusion is facilitated by the gradient between the high oxygen tension in the open capiliaries and the low tension in the occluded ones. The effectiveness of this mechanism depends upon the abundance of capillaries in the tissues. Because the brain is very vascular tissue, this mechanism can provide for the oxygenation of the tissues after vascular occlusion.
3. The supply of oxygen to the tissues can be facilitated by decreasing the viscosity of the blood and reducing platelet clumping and increasing red blood cell’s ability to pass through the brain’s vasulature.
4. HBOT relieves brain edema (swelling).
5. HBOT reduces the swelling of neurons by improving their metabolism.
6. HBOT, by improving oxygenation of the penumbra that surrounds the area of total ischemia, prevents glycolysis and subsequent intracellular lactic acidosis and maintains cerebral metabolism in an otherwise compromised area.
Recent studies continue to support the effectiveness of hyperbaric medicine in restoring neurological function and decreasing the impact of stroke related disabilities many years later. “The neurological improvements in a chronic late stage demonstrate that neuroplasticity can be operative and activiated by HBOT even long after acute brain insult.” (Hyperbaric Oxygen Induces Late Neuroplasticity in Post Stroke Patients – Randomized, Prospective Trial, Efrati, et. al. 2013)
Dr. Shai Efrati discusses hyperbaric oxygen and anti-aging:
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