March – Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness

Almost 2 million people obtain a Traumatic Brain Injury in the US each year.Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a form of brain injury caused by sudden damage to the brain. Depending on the source of the trauma, TBIs can result in either open or closed head injuries.

  • Open Head Injuries : Occur when an object (i,e. a bullet) enters the brain and causes damage to specific brain parts. Symptoms vary depending on the part of the brain that is damaged.
  • Closed Head Injuries: These injuries result from a blow to the head (i.e. when the head strikes the windshield or dashboard in a car accident, blast injuries for soldiers, even PTSD).

TBIs result in two types of damage to the brain: primary brain damage , which is the damage that occurs at the time of impact (e.g., skull fracture, bleeding, blood clots), and secondary brain damage , which is damage that evolves over time after the trauma (e.g., increased blood pressure within the skull, seizures, brain swelling).

Brain Injury has no known treatment other than hyperbaric oxygen, however, research regarding the validity of hyperbaric oxygen is advancing rapidly and the results look good. Evidence shows that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can be very helpful in the care of patients with various forms of brain injury and PTSD. Over the past few years, the evidence has been accumulating on two fronts under IRB-approved protocols and now, two milestones have been reached. The International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation,, has conducted an observational study in which over 70 brain injured veterans have been treated without any reported adverse event.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) often leads to devastating results not because of the initial blow to the head, but instead because of the inflammatory processes that follow as a consequence of the hit. Thus, preventing or slowing the inflammation that occurs after the trauma to the head can vastly improve patient outcomes. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been shown in animal models to reduce this inflammation and thereby protect the brain from significant damage. Now, scientists help clarify exactly how HBOT has this advantageous effect on the brain. This new research was recently published in the journal Neuroimmunomodulation .

The scientists used four groups of mice: one without injury and without HBOT, one without injury with HBOT, one with TBI without HBOT, and one with TBI with HBOT. They expected that the final group, which had both TBI and the HBOT intervention would show significant differences in performance and in physiology before and after the treatment, whereas the other groups tested at different time points would not show these differences.

As expected, the researchers found that HBOT led to better motor performance and lower brain swelling, known as edema, in the group of mice that had TBI. After HBOT, these mice also had lower protein expression of elements that contribute to inflammation.

These findings corroborate previous findings that HBOT is a beneficial intervention for TBI and help explain exactly how HBOT confers its positive impact on a traumatically injured brain. Future research will help identify the best ways to use this therapy to help patients who suffer trauma to the head.

For further research, see the following:

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