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.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects 3.2 to 5.3 million persons in the United States (U.S.), and the impact in the U.S. military is proportionally higher. Consensus is lacking regarding an accepted outcome to measure the effectiveness of interventions to improve the symptoms associated with TBI, and no standard-of-care treatment exists for mild TBI (mTBI). A recent literature review evaluated hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO₂) interventions, and findings were mixed. We conducted a systematic review of non-HBO₂ mTBI interventional trials published in 2005-2015 in military and civilian populations. A total of 154 abstracts, seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and five pilot studies were reviewed. RCTs were evaluated using Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials criteria. Results indicated that studies published within the period of review were small pilot studies for rehabilitation therapy and motion capture or virtual reality gaming interventions. Neuropsychological assessments were commonly specified outcomes, and most studies included a combination of symptom and neuropsychological assessments. Findings indicated a lack of large-scale, well-controlled trials to address the symptoms and sequelae of this condition, but results of small exploratory studies show evidence of potentially promising interventions.
We report results of an observational cohort study investigating long-term follow-up in participants from two completed United States military trials of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO₂) for persistent post-concussive symptoms (PCS), as well as challenges in recruitment and retention in active-duty military personnel. After informed consent, participants completed an electronic survey assessing PCS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and quality of life. Of 132 HBO₂ study participants, 40 (30%) completed the survey (42 could not be contacted; 50 were lost to follow-up or declined). All were male, age 28.1 ±6.6 years (mean ±1SD). Time to follow-up was 39.2 ±6.1 months.
Results of studies addressing the effect of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on symptoms and neuropsychological assessments are mixed regarding cognitive deficits in these populations. Neuropsychological assessments were compared between U.S. military service members with mTBI only (n=36) vs. those with mTBI÷ PTSD (n=35) from a randomized interventional study of mTBI participants with persistent post-concussive symptoms (PCS). The mTBI group endorsed worse symptoms than published norms on PCS, PTSD and pain scales (⟩50% abnormal on Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NSI), PTSD Checklist-Civilian, McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form) and some quality of life domains.