Israeli researchers have found a revolutionary way to treat brain damage, Business Standard reports.
Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers and staff at the Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin have found that high levels of oxygen in a pressurized atmosphere can significantly improve chronic brain damage.
After treatment, patients who sustained brain injuries from 20 years ago improved their cognitive and physical responses following the treatment, the study concludes.
Doctors worldwide treat brain injuries with physical rehabilitation, but its effects have been limited partly because the window of opportunity to repair the brain damage after the injury is short.
According to the Israeli researchers who worked on the study, the advantage of using hyperbaric oxygen - high levels of oxygen in a pressurized cabin - is that the oxygen reaches deeper into the brain tissues, reviving dormant nerve cells and reactivating blood vessels.
Jewish Business News provides more details about the study. The trial included 56 participants who had suffered mild traumatic brain injury one to five years earlier and were still bothered by headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and other cognitive impairments. The patients’ symptoms were no longer improving prior to the trial.
The participants were randomly divided into two groups. One received two months of HBOT treatment while the other, the control group, was not treated at all. The latter group then received two months of treatment following the first control period.
The treatments consisted of 40 one-hour sessions, administered 5 times per week over 2 months, in a high pressure chamber, breathing 100% oxygen and experiencing a pressure of 1.5 atmospheres - the same pressure experienced when diving under water to a depth of 5 meters.
The patients’ brain functions and quality of life were then assessed by computerized evaluations and compared with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans.
In both groups, the hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions led to significant improvements in tests of cognitive function and quality of life.
The researchers call for additional larger scale, multi-center clinical studies to further confirm the findings and determine the most effective and personalized treatment protocols.
Researchers were also positive that the study, published recently in Public Library of Science's journal PLOS One, will help treat other diseases linked to brain injury and aging, e.g. dementia and Alzheimer's.