HBOT Facts

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Facts

  1. Hyperbaric ChamberIt is a therapy that has been in use for the past 50 years. It is available all over the world and is a safe treatment when proper protocols are followed. Roughly a million people in the United States undergo the use of HBOT a year. About 75 million people undergo HBOT globally. Number of death due to HBOT every year in the US?:  Less than 1 per year. Incidence of injuries and traumas using HBOT? 400 to 1000 patients (1). Deaths after hospital inpatient surgery in the U.S.? 156,000 patients (2).

  2. The number of applications that it has been tried on is very diverse. It is used for air/gas embolisms, skin flap/graft rescue, acute thermal burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, decompression sickness, severe anemia, ischemic limb injury, central retinal artery occlusion, necrotizing soft tissue infections, refractory osteomyelitis, sudden sensorineural hearing loss and delayed radiation injury, just to name a few (see http://membership.uhms.org/?page=Indications). When applied correctly, it is highly effective and safe with very few side effects.
  3. The additional indication for use in stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, autism, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease are still under investigation. There are a number of anecdotal and case reports for treating neurological injuries, but very few clinical trials. HBOT is highly underfunded and the controlled studies needed to verify the clinical reports and observations are still needed. HBOT acts to support healing and metabolic functions in the body, making it a basic but essential tool for healing. Studies of HBOT in combination with cancer therapies have yielded a rich trove of animal and human data (3-23), yet its use has not increased.
  4. The use of oxygen as a therapeutic tool is one of the most common and widely applied in the medical sphere. Although USP medial grade oxygen is delivered like a drug to patients, requiring a prescription, it has no intellectual property protection. Hence, the ability to make a large profit margin is not present, as well as the commercial interest to fund further research on the subject. Also, the majority of research money is tied to high-tech medical research and pharmaceuticals. Only about $100 million dollars goes directly to hyperbaric research, mostly to research severe TBI treatment and DoD funding.
  5. Oxygen is basic to all metabolisms in plants, animals and many microbes. It is one of two major macronutrients that the brain uses (glucose and oxygen) and when pressurized, induces a number of changes in gene expression, metabolism and physiological processes. Recent studies have shown that HBOT induces the expression of over 8,000 genes (24) associated with protection and repair in human cells and rat models of cerebral stroke (25).

Below is a small list of human clinical trials and case reports of the use of HBOT on stroke and cerebral ischemia (26-57).  

On the use of HBOT and traumatic brain injury, there is literature on animal studies (50, 58-69), with a few clinical trials and case reports in humans for traumatic brain injury (70-81).

Other studies looking at Alzheimer’s disease (82, 83) and age-related macular degeneration (84) show promise for this therapy.

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