The National Brain Injury Rescue and Rehabilitation Study – a multicenter observational study of hyperbaric oxygen for mild traumatic brain injury with post-concussive symptoms

The National Brain Injury Rescue and Rehabilitation Project was established as a preliminary study to test the safety and practicality of multi-center hyperbaric oxygen administration for the post-concussive symptoms of chronic mild traumatic brain injury as a precursor to a pivotal, independent, multi-center, controlled clinical trial. This report presents the results for 32 subjects who completed a preliminary trial of hyperbaric oxygen several years before the passage of the 21 st Century Cures Act.

Case control study: hyperbaric oxygen treatment of mild traumatic brain injury persistent post-concussion syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) persistent post-concussion syndrome (PPCS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are epidemic in United States Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans. Treatment of the combined diagnoses is limited. The aim of this study is to assess safety, feasibility, and effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) for mild TBI PPCS and PTSD. Thirty military subjects aged 18-65 with PPCS with or without PTSD and from one or more blast-induced mild-moderate traumatic brain injuries that were a minimum of 1 year old and occurred after 9/11/2001 were studied. The measures included symptom lists, physical exam, neuropsychological and psychological testing on 29 subjects (1 dropout) and SPECT brain imaging pre and post HBOT. Comparison was made using SPECT imaging on 29 matched Controls. Side effects (30 subjects) experienced due to the HBOT: reversible middle ear barotrauma (n = 6), transient deterioration in symptoms (n = 7), reversible bronchospasm (n = 1), and increased anxiety (n = 2; not related to confinement); unrelated to HBOT: ureterolithiasis (n = 1), chest pain (n = 2). Significant improvement (29 subjects) was seen in neurological exam, symptoms, intelligence quotient, memory, measures of attention, dominant hand motor speed and dexterity, quality of life, general anxiety, PTSD, depression (including reduction in suicidal ideation), and reduced psychoactive medication usage. At 6-month follow-up subjects reported further symptomatic improvement. Compared to Controls the subjects’ SPECT was significantly abnormal, significantly improved after 1 and 40 treatments, and became statistically indistinguishable from Controls in 75% of abnormal areas. HBOT was found to be safe and significantly effective for veterans with mild to moderate TBI PPCS with PTSD in all four outcome domains: clinical medicine, neuropsychology, psychology, and SPECT imaging. Veterans also experienced a significant reduction in suicidal ideation and reduction in psychoactive medication use.

Increased circulating stem cells and better cognitive performance in traumatic brain injury subjects following hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may cause persistent cognitive dysfunction. A pilot clinical study was performed to determine if hyperbaric oxygen (HBO₂) treatment improves cognitive performance. It was hypothesized that stem cells, mobilized by HBO₂ treatment, are recruited to repair damaged neuronal tissue. This hypothesis was tested by measuring the relative abundance of stem cells in peripheral blood and cognitive performance during this clinical trial. The subject population consisted of 28 subjects with persistent cognitive impairment caused by mild to moderate TBI suffered during military deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis was performed for stem cell markers in peripheral blood and correlated with variables resulting from standard tests of cognitive performance and post-traumatic stress disorder: ImPACT, BrainCheckers and PCL-M test results. HBO₂ treatment correlated with stem cell mobilization as well as increased cognitive performance. Together these results support the hypothesis that stem cell mobilization may be required for cognitive improvement in this population.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Induce Angiogenesis and Regeneration of Nerve Fibers in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients.

Background: Recent clinical studies in stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims suffering chronic neurological injury present evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can induce neuroplasticity. Objective: To assess the neurotherapeutic effect of HBOT on prolonged post-concussion syndrome (PPCS) due to TBI, using brain microstructure imaging. Methods: Fifteen patients afflicted with PPCS were treated with 60 daily HBOT sessions. Imaging evaluation was performed using Dynamic Susceptibility Contrast-Enhanced (DSC) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) MR sequences. Cognitive evaluation was performed by an objective computerized battery (NeuroTrax). Results: HBOT was initiated 6 months to 27 years (10.3 ± 3.2 years) from injury. After HBOT, DTI analysis showed significantly increased fractional anisotropy values and decreased mean diffusivity in both white and gray matter structures. In addition, the cerebral blood flow and volume were increased significantly. Clinically, HBOT induced significant improvement in the memory, executive functions, information processing speed and global cognitive scores. Conclusions: The mechanisms by which HBOT induces brain neuroplasticity can be demonstrated by highly sensitive MRI techniques of DSC and DTI. HBOT can induce cerebral angiogenesis and improve both white and gray microstructures indicating regeneration of nerve fibers. The micro structural changes correlate with the neurocognitive improvements.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for traumatic brain injury: bench-to-bedside.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States. Survivors of TBI are often left with significant cognitive, behavioral, and communicative disabilities. So far there is no effective treatment/intervention in the daily clinical practice for TBI patients. The protective effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) have been proved in stroke; however, its efficiency in TBI remains controversial. In this review, we will summarize the results of HBOT in experimental and clinical TBI, elaborate the mechanisms, and bring out our current understanding and opinions for future studies.

Treatment of persistent post-concussion syndrome due to mild traumatic brain injury: current status and future directions.

Persistent post-concussion syndrome caused by mild traumatic brain injury has become a major cause of morbidity and poor quality of life. Unlike the acute care of concussion, there is no consensus for treatment of chronic symptoms. Moreover, most of the pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments have failed to demonstrate significant efficacy on both the clinical symptoms as well as the pathophysiologic cascade responsible for the permanent brain injury. This article reviews the pathophysiology of PCS, the diagnostic tools and criteria, the current available treatments including pharmacotherapy and different cognitive rehabilitation programs, and promising new treatment directions. A most promising new direction is the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which targets the basic pathological processes responsible for post-concussion symptoms; it is discussed here in depth.