Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Stroke Patients

There's a treatment for stroke called HBOT or Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. This basically entails enclosing a patient within a glass cylinder that contains 100% oxygen for the patient to breathe in at pressures greater than normal atmospheric (sea level) pressure.

To be exact, at a pressure of 1-3 atmosphere (atm) that lasts 90-120 minutes per session. The duration and number of session per patient actually varies and is, in fact, not standardized in clinical practice.

HBOT is really not a newly-invented therapy. It has been in use since 1662 and was first used clinically as a remedy in 1783 by French physician Caillens. HBOT eventually was used for a number of beneficial mechanisms in the 1950s after it was used 20 years earlier by the US Military to treat deep sea divers with decompression sickness.

Forerunners of the glass cylinder used in HBOT were hard-shelled pressure vessels used for deep sea diving. There are other versions of the cylinder such as the ones recently in use for home-based therapy that are soft, reliable, and portable chambers which operate 0.3-0.5 bars above atmospheric pressure. Aside from monochamber-like administration of HBOT, another form of treatment is via a multiplace chamber which allow medical personnel to work in the chamber and care for the patient, especially those with acute cases.

HBOT has been approved by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) for the treatment of air or gas embolism, crush injury, compartment syndrome, acute traumatic ischemias, enhancement of healing in selected problem wounds, anemia, intracranial abscess, osteomyelitis, delayed radiation injury, skin grafts, and thermal burns, among others.

In the United Kingdom, HBOT is also applied to autism, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, radiation-induced hemorraghic cystitis, and certain kinds of hearing loss. It is lawful in the US, on the other hand, to prescribe HBOT for Lyme Disease, stroke, and migraines.

The use of HBOT for the treatment of stroke has been on the rise but not on a full-scale basis, however. It is, in fact, still under study. The US-based Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality conducted a research on the benefits and harms of HBOT for brain injury, cerebral palsy, and stroke in 2003.

According to their study, the evidence of HBOT for the treatment of stroke is insufficient to determine whether it reduces mortality in subgroups because no controlled trial assessed was designed to assess mortality. The evidence about morbidity is also conflicting among controlled trials. There is no difference found in neurological measures in patients treated with HBOT versus patients treated with pressurized room air in three of the best quality trials conducted. There were two controlled trials that showed HBOT improved neurological outcomes on some measures but the trials were poorly rated in quality.

Thus, HBOT as a treatment for stroke still requires further research. With treatments for it costing from $108 to $1000, it is still best to stick to treatments for stroke that are already proven and guaranteed effective worldwide such as NeuroAid.

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