Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Enhance Brain Activity?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy heals our body and brain by offering pure oxygen at increased pressure. With improved oxygen concentration in our blood, our brain functioning enhances, and conditions like traumatic brain injury, anxiety, and stress improve.
Considering the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, surfer Shawn Dollar also used the treatment to improve his symptoms after an accident. Not long ago, in 2015, Shawn injured his neck and he had to wear a brace for the next three months. When his brace was removed, his neck was healed, but his brain didn’t feel well. He started experiencing deep depression and anxiety. As a result, his ability to do math was reduced and confusion prevailed.
When he finally went for SPECT scans, he found concussions as a result of his profession. His MRI scans were not showing these concussions that caused his anxiety and depression.
To improve the situation, Shawn received hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a long time. Slowly he started feeling better and his concussion healed with time. The therapy delivered pure oxygen to the brain and improved oxygen concentration of brain cells, which relieved concussion and eliminated symptoms to a great extent.
This article will discuss the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on brain activity.
3 Ways Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help Brain Activity
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a process of increasing pressure that allows oxygen gas to dissolve in bodily liquids. Normally, our body is used to transporting oxygen via red blood cells. However, hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen concentration by allowing bodily fluids like cerebral spinal fluids, lipids, and plasma to carry oxygen.
With this, inflammation and oxygen deprivation in the brain cells decreases, which leads to healing.
1.Enhanced Blood Flow
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy delivers extra oxygen to the body and brain, which improves blood flow in the entire body. This increase in blood flow is a sign of healing and proper brain functioning.
In a study, brain imaging revealed improvement in brain blood flow in the case of post-concussion syndrome after receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. When the pre and post scans were compared, it clearly showed improvement in the condition because of proper blood flow in the entire body.
This helps improve symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and many other conditions. Many individuals with Alzheimer’s or autism spectrum disorder also observe a considerable improvement in symptoms because of proper blood flow in the brain.
2.Healing in Traumatic Injuries
Traumatic brain injury or TBI is a condition that increases panic attacks, anxiety, depression, PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), suicide, ADHD, etc. This is because of a lack of proper oxygen in the brain, damaged and diseased cells and tissues, and impaired functioning. With hyperbaric oxygen therapy, oxygen concentration improves, diseased cells and tissues receive oxygen and start healing. Hence, conditions related to TBI improve.
In a study, around 16 soldiers suffered a TBI and developed PTSD. These soldiers went through therapy, and their brain imaging and SPECT scans were taken before the treatment. After 40 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, brain imaging was again conducted, which showed improvement in blood flow and brain activity. This means these soldiers experienced an improvement in mood, impulsivity, quality of life, anxiety, and other such issues.
3.Improved Brain Metabolism
Many individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Their brain cells and the connections binding them together start degenerating causing a loss in memory. Several other daily functions are hampered, such as the ability to live a normal life, understanding things clearly, etc. Therefore, these individuals consistently suffer from confusion because they don’t remember a part of their lives.
While this disease can’t be treated and we can only minimize symptoms with supportive medication, hyperbaric oxygen therapy offers promising results. A woman of 58 years old was suffering from cognitive decline for half a decade. She was an Alzheimer’s patient who was forgetting her memories.
When this woman was offered HBOT, improvements were seen. The physicians suggested 40 sessions of the treatment that resolved concentration and memory issues. The memory functioning improved, disorientation decreased, anxiety due to loss of memory resolved, and she was less frustrated than usual. Overall, it is believed that she received a 6.5-38% benefit in brain metabolism, which reduced symptoms.
Other Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
- HBOT therapy can eliminate oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress leads to the accumulation of free ions, and HBOT activates enzymes that help in eliminating oxidative stress.
- Similarly, many injured cells and tissues get inflamed when proper oxygen is not delivered. With hyperbaric oxygen therapy, this issue is resolved and proper oxygen is delivered to the body. Therefore, inflammation in the entire body, including the brain reduces, which decreases related symptoms, such as poor blood flow, confusion, anxiety, etc.
Similar to Shawn Dollar, many people with brain injuries, such as TBI, Alzheimer’s, and autism spectrum disorder benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. However, to receive maximum benefits of the therapy, consult your physician to understand your condition better. Your doctor may be able to create a therapy plan including other supportive therapies for faster recovery.
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