Most brain injury related discoveries lately have been focused on prevention and diagnosis, but there are also advancements being made in treating brain injury, as Israeli researchers have announced. This isn’t the first study supporting the idea that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can work wonders for TBI patients, but their study supports all the current evidence showing brain damage may not have a “sit-and-wait” type of recovery process forever.
The Jewish Voice NY reported on the study, which was carried out by researchers from Tel Aviv University and Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. The study was also published in the January 15 issue of PLoS ONE, and says that after two-months of HBOT treatment, there was a significant increase in neuronal activity compared to control periods of non-treatment.
The patients placed into HBOT therapy showed demonstrable improvements in neurological function such as reversal of paralysis, or increased sensation and renewed use of language. The improvements were present in patients even years after their stroke and brain damage.
The hyperbaric oxygen therapy focuses on repairing damaged, but not dead, neurons after brain damage. These neurons retain enough energy to keep living, but not enough to fire electrical signals. The researchers theorized that heightened oxygen levels would be able to rebuild neuronal connections and stimulate healing.
“The findings challenge the leading paradigm since they demonstrate beyond any doubt that neuroplasticity can still be activated for months and years after acute brain injury, thus revealing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic into adulthood,” said Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob, one of the leaders of the study.
It is unclear from this study whether the results will be relevant for treating other forms of brain injury such as traumatic brain injury or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, but any improvement in treating brain injury is a step in the right direction.