Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a noninvasive therapy that involves breathing 100% oxygen in a pressurized room or tube to heal the body of various conditions.
How HBOT Works
People receive HBOT in one of two settings:
- An individual HBOT unit, which is a clear acrylic tube designed for one person to receive treatment.
- A hyperbaric oxygen room, which is a room designed for several people to receive treatment at the same time.
The body needs oxygen to heal itself, and HBOT provides the oxygen necessary to facilitate that healing.
During the non-invasive and painless treatment, you breathe 100% oxygen while the unit or room air pressure is increased to three times normal room air pressure. This process of combining pure oxygen under pressure enables your lungs to bring higher concentrations of oxygen into your bloodstream for your body to absorb.
This extra oxygen assists your body in fighting bacteria and promotes healing, reduces inflammation, and stimulates stem cell and blood vessel growth. Here we’ll discuss additional benefits of HBOT.
Living with a wound that doesn’t heal can significantly impact your quality of life. It can cause significant pain, affect your ability to socialize, and lead to anxiety. Extra oxygen is essential for tissue to survive and heal, and HBOT is used to treat the even stubborn wounds, including those arising from the following conditions:
- Diabetic wounds
- Radiation therapy wounds
- Chronic bone infections
- Ulcerative wounds
- Skin grafts
- Post-surgical wounds/infections
During HBOT treatment, when the oxygen level in the patient’s blood increases, swelling is reduced, new blood vessels are formed, and infection is controlled as anaerobic bacteria are killed. These effects all give persistent wounds the greatest chance to heal and promote healthy tissue growth.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” A concussion is a mild TBI.
If you, or someone you know, has had a brain injury, you understand how difficult life can be when you can’t function the way you used to. Symptoms of a TBI impact your memory and ability to think clearly. TBI also affects your physical well-being, emotions, moods, and sleep patterns.
Research reveals that HBOT benefits the brain for those suffering from a TBI, and brain imaging backs up that research by showing that HBOT increases the blood flow to the brain, which is critical for people to experience an improved quality of life. HBOT also decreases inflammation, increases the growth of new neurons, and stimulates the brain’s ability to compensate for the TBI.
Examples of ways HBOT can improve your quality of life after a brain injury include:
- Improved memory
- Lengthened and improved attention
- Reduction in anxiety and depression
- Increased energy
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
If you are one of the 44.7 million Americans who have suffered from the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you know it can occur in anyone who has experienced trauma, not just war veterans. Each year, approximately 7.7 million Americans experience PTSD, with women twice as likely to be afflicted than men.
Through advanced brain scans, medical researchers are learning that PTSD is not a mental disorder, even though it can impact your mental well-being. Brain imaging reveals that similar to a TBI, physical brain changes are the cause of PTSD symptoms. For this reason, some are advocating to change the term from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Post Traumatic Stress Injury.
PTSD symptoms include:
- Intrusive memories and flashbacks
- Difficulty sleeping
- Depression symptoms
- Avoidance behaviors
- Behavior changes
- Suicide ideation
HBOT works on the brain to improve symptoms of PTSD in the same way we described for a TBI, and the benefits can be extraordinary.
A 2017 study demonstrated marked improvement in veterans who had concussions after 40 sessions of HBOT. They showed improvements in memory, attention, anxiety, depression (including a reduction in suicidal thoughts), PTSD symptoms, and their intelligence quotients. They were also able to reduce their medication use.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause mild to severe communication problems, abnormal social skills, behavior problems, and developmental delays. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 59 children have been identified as having ASD, and it’s four times more common in boys than girls, so it’s a significant issue among our children.
Researchers have revealed that gut microbes produce “bioactive compounds” that help to facilitate brain function and social development. Children with ASD appear to have gut bacteria that are distinctly different from children without ASD, and almost 90 percent of children with ASD also have gut issues. Having low blood flow to the brain is also linked to ASD.
HBOT assists in healing gut and brain inflammation, balancing gut and yeast bacteria, and increasing blood flow to crucial areas of the brain. It also promotes new capillary growth in the brain and removes toxins. All of these benefits make HBOT a valuable part of an ASD treatment plan.
Caregivers are pleased to report the benefits of HBOT for their loved ones with ASD:
- Increased focus and attention
- Improved cognition
- Improved social skills
- Improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms
- Improved sleep
- Reduced sensory disorder symptoms
- Increased interpersonal connection
- Improved language abilities
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic exertion intolerance disease. No matter how much you sleep or rest, your overwhelming fatigue isn’t relieved if you have CFS. If you participate in any physical or mental activities, your symptoms often increase (post-external malaise).
ME/CFS can be very frustrating because you might not look ill to onlookers, but you often feel entirely disabled.
People who received HBOT for CFS have reported significant improvements in their symptoms after fifteen sessions of thirty minutes each. If you have CFS, you can experience an improved quality of life and less fatigue from HBOT.
Our skilled providers at The LaCava Center are dedicated to helping you achieve maximum health through alternative therapies. Our team specializes in HBOT for the conditions we discussed, as well as others. If you would like to learn more, contact us for an appointment with our team who will listen intently to your concerns and offer solutions.