Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers Benefit TBI Survivors?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2023 | Traumatic Brain Injury

There are many reasons why people fear traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). One is that they often result in permanent injuries that will require extensive medical support and can limit someone’s future career opportunities.  The other is that they are very expensive for the individual and their immediate family members. A TBI can leave someone dependent on life support, prompt a change in their personality or cognitive abilities, alter their sensory perception and even impact their motor function.

Treatment for TBIs often focuses on immediate trauma care to protect the brain from further injury, such as surgery to relieve pressure caused by intracranial bleeding, and rehabilitative care to help an individual regain lost function whenever possible. Generally, there is no treatment for an already-established TBI that will eliminate all symptoms. However, some medical researchers believe that hyperbaric chambers could benefit at least some people with TBIs.

What is a hyperbaric chamber?

A hyperbaric chamber is a sealed room in a medical facility where operators can alter the air or atmospheric pressure. One of the best-known uses of hyperbaric chambers is to treat scuba divers for decompression sickness, which some people call “the bends.” There is some medical research that indicates that individuals with TBIs may benefit from treatment in hyperbaric chambers. Hyperbaric treatments can increase the amount of oxygen available in the bloodstream and within the brain, which can lead to improved functioning and even help the brain to heal itself.

Despite some promising anecdotes, research on the use of hyperbaric chambers for TBIs is still in the early stages. Medical experts warn against blanket statements for such treatments because every brain injury is inherently unique given the placement and the severity of the damage to the brain. Not every brain injury will necessarily respond positively to hyperbaric treatment, although some certainly have in prior research.

For those who are coping with the consequences of a TBI or looking into treatment options for a loved one, cutting-edge options like hyperbaric treatments could be a viable solution. Pursuing insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits may be a necessary step for those hoping to connect with less-traditional treatments for a TBI if the circumstances that led to their harm were not their fault or were only partially their fault.