If you or a loved one has ever suffered from a traumatic brain injury, you know just how long and difficult the recovery process can be. Researchers at 14 hospitals across the country are hoping to change that. They are conducting a new study named Hyperbaric Oxygen Brain Injury Treatment (HOBIT). The point of the study is to see if oxygen therapy can speed up the recovery time for brain injury patients.
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
You may have heard of a hyperbaric chamber before. That is how they treat decompression sickness in scuba divers. They also use it to treat wounds that have a hard time healing. The chamber is usually about the size of a small school bus and can be pressurized. They treat the patient with 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized setting.
How does this help with a brain injury?
Oxygen helps speed up the healing process by reducing inflammation. Many traumatic brain injuries have difficulty healing because the brain is not receiving enough oxygen. Researchers are hoping that HOBIT will provide a path to help heal the brain faster. They report that this therapy is relatively safe and easy for patients to tolerate.
Each session lasts about two hours, with 90 minutes at 100 percent oxygen. Patients take part in two sessions per day for five days in a row. They must start the treatment quickly after the injury occurs. Researchers are using different pressurizations, as well as a control group for the study.
Traumatic brain injuries can alter lives and linger for a very long time, or even for life. If a treatment like HOBIT could help people heal faster and improve their quality of life, such a breakthrough could make a huge difference to brain injury victims everywhere.