⫸Often called post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, some patients experience ongoing symptoms preventing them from feeling normal, even after recovering from the initial illness. The CDC reports up to 35 percent of those infected endure symptoms lasting beyond three weeks or longer. These COVID "long-haulers" fear they may never get better. Their symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, body aches, joint pain, difficulty sleeping, headaches, brain fog, gastrointestinal issues, and dizziness. These symptoms are eerily similar to Chronic Lyme Disease, a condition that affects thousands of people every year. In fact, many of these people may be suffering from a tick-borne disease that was kicked into 'high gear' by the COVID virus. Either way, HBOT can help.
💥If you have recovered from COVID and now test Negative, call now for a series of sessions at my Los Gatos, California clinic. 408-314-0758. OR, invest in your health with the purchase of a Hyperbaric chamber. Scroll down for further information⬇️
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Traumatic Brain Injury and Hyperbaric Oxygen
by Michelle Faber with Dr. Timothy Jennings Edited by Dr. Thomas Antone, January 2021
In 2015, the Will Smith film Concussion, which depicts Dr. Bennet Omalu’s struggle to uncover the truth about brain damage to football players, brought international attention to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and its long-term complications. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were 2.5 million TBIrelated emergency room visits in 2014 — 812,000 children were treated for TBIrelated head injuries & 275,000 deaths (EDHD). As this trend continues, these numbers are even higher now - by approximately 50,000 ER visits. See CDC chart (ref #10).
While the brain sits inside the hard, bony case of the skull, it is soft, more so than an over-ripe banana. This makes it vulnerable to rapid acceleration and deceleration injuries, aka concussions, which occur when the brain impacts the skull with a force sufficient to cause bruising. At each point of injury, local swelling, bleeding, and even neuronal arrest and/or death can occur. Over the following hours and days, inflammation develops around the bruised area, just like injuries do elsewhere in the body. Since the skull is inflexible, the swelling pushes inward on the brain, reducing blood flow and extending the damage further. This happens across the brain, adjacent to the injury and causes impairments over a much larger area; moreover, neurons in this expanded area may be damaged and unable to carry out their functions. They may not die, but they will exist in an inactive or stunned state, basically not functioning for an indefinite period of time - waiting to be ‘awakened’, often in vain.
The immediate injury may cause loss of consciousness, or the injured parties may just feel stunned and briefly lose track of what is happening around them. They also may have an initial headache and some confusion, which in ‘very mild’ TBI can improve over the next several hours or days.
Long-term Consequences of TBI
Let’s now look at how symptoms often develop after a more severe TBI: As more inflammation develops, more serious symptoms can increase, peaking over the next one to two weeks. These include headache; a confusion often described as “brain fog”; nausea; irritability, emotional lability & being easily overwhelmed; sensitivity to light and sound; impaired concentration, memory, and problem-solving; difficulty multitasking; struggles with visual stimulation and eye-tracking, such as processing information from computer or TV screens; and severe fatigue - all also indicative of a PTSD. Symptoms typically plateau then may slowly improve over several months. Unfortunately, this gradual improvement isn’t always the case. Many symptoms are ongoing. When MRI brain scans reveal no gross destruction of brain matter, this type of injury is often referred to as “mild” TBI. However, functional scans (fMRI, PET, SPECT) will demonstrate gross impairment of blood flow and metabolism in the affected areas. These impairments - including abnormal neuronal activity - may persist for years, resulting in chronic impairments to brain function with the continuation of associated symptoms - described above.
These persistent symptoms can lead to further life problems, such as loss of one’s job and resulting financial problems, relationship troubles, loss of self-esteem and/or confidence, mood dysregulation, and other, rather disturbing mental health problems. Common causes of TBI include anything that produces a blow to the head, such as: falls (most head injuries are due to falls); being struck by or against an object; and motor-vehicle accidents. Other common causes include cycling accidents, sports injuries, combat injuries (explosions) and surfing.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Recently, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is demonstrating that it provides considerable improvement in people suffering from TBI, even several years after the injuries occurred. HBOT is the intake of oxygen (O2) at higher-than-atmospheric concentrations and pressures for the treatment of injury or disease. HBOT was first used in the 1930s to treat decompression sickness in divers (commonly known as “the bends”). Many divers then reported the resolution of chronic health issue they had. The American FDA currently approves 13 uses, including: Gas gangrene, air embolism, osteomyelitis, radiation necrosis, diabetic ulcers, and the aforementioned decompression sickness. These are by no means all there is to this therapy. Current scientific evidence suggests that HBOT can permanently and dramatically improve symptoms of chronic TBI, even if treatment is received years after the initial head injury. Understanding the physiologic effects of HBOT gives insight as to why its therapeutic benefits are so effective.
While breathing room air (21% O2 & 78% N2) at sea level (1 atmosphere or 1 ATA = 14.696 psi), about 97 percent of the total inhaled oxygen (with a negative charge) is transferred to the blood by the lungs, bound to hemoglobin (with a positive charge) while only 3 percent dissolves into the blood serum (plasma - neutral charge). By the time this oxygen diffuses through the tissues, into the cells, and reaches the mitochondria (energy producing organelles inside the cells), only trace amounts are available. HBOT’s main function is to temporarily super-saturate body tissues with an oxygen solution. HBOT delivering +/- 95% O2 at 1.3 ATA (4.4 psi) increases dissolved oxygen in the serum by seven-fold. (HBOT delivering 95% O2 at 1.4 ATA (5.87 psi) increases dissolved oxygen in the serum by more than a factor of 9.) Body tissues outside the circulatory system will thereby experience a commensurate total increase in oxygen concentration and distribution by infusion.
Warning: If a hyper-oxygenated state is maintained for long periods or repeated frequently with 100% oxygen, it can cause significant oxidative damage to the body tissues, undermining any health benefits. The culprit in this damage is something called ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). Excess ROS can lead to cellular injury in the form of damaged DNA, lipids and proteins. Thus, long periods of HBOT are harmful. However, short, 1-hour ‘pulses’ of HBOT trigger a variety of healing processes without overwhelming the body’s antioxidant systems.
Current known health-inducing responses from HBOT:
Stimulation of powerful anti-inflammatory processes, reduction of edema, increased blood perfusion, new blood vessel (capillary) growth, improved immune response, enhancement of the body’s antioxidant system, improved bone-marrow-stemcell activity, improved growth and repair of neuronal axons, and modulation of thousands of genes involved in cellular growth and repair.
Just as with any medicinal dosing, while the right dose can heal, too much medicine can harm. With TBI, too large of a dose of HBOT can worsen the condition. Dose is determined by pressure, time and oxygen purity. High-pressure HBOT of 2.0 ATA (29 psi) with 100% pure O2 is very effective for infections but can worsen TBI. After several decades of research, it has been determined that TBI is best treated with lower pressures, +/- 95% O2 and session time-limits within 1 hour each.
The recommended HBOT protocol for TBI is currently one or more blocks of 40, 1-hour sessions at pressures between at 1.3 ATA (4.4 psi) and 1.5 ATA (7.3 psi). There are numerous case reports of individuals who have suffered through post-TBI symptoms for decades, and who, prior to HBOT, had SPECT scans showing decreased perfusion in multiple brain regions. SPECT scans after HBOT showed normal perfusion and a marked improvement in function. These patients also report significant improvements in concentration, emotional stability, ability to multitask and increases in short and long-term memory. HBOT is not FDA-approved for TBI treatment. This is due to the fact that it has not yet been possible to develop a ‘sham’ treatment for it and, thus, no double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have been done to demonstrate its effectiveness over a placebo. Because HBOT is not FDA approved for TBI, many insurance companies will not pay for it. However, as of 2020, Blue Cross & Blue Shield have been known to pay, in some circumstances, such as Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Ask your doctor to verify coverage for your diagnosis.
It is our opinion that if you or someone you love has suffered a TBI - recently or in the past - and struggles with functional impairments, including PTSD, we recommend you speak with your healthcare provider about a trial of HBOT and begin treatments immediately.
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References: 1- Goderez, B., Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Psychiatric Times, Vol. 36, Iss. 5, May, 28, 2019. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/treatmenttraumatic- brain-injury-hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy. 2 - Harch PG, Andrews SR, Fogarty EF, et.al. A phase I study of low-pressure hyperbaric oxygen therapy for blast-induced post-concussion syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. J Neurotrauma. 2012;29:168-185. 3 - Efrati S, Ben-Jacob E. How and why hyperbaric oxygen therapy can bring new hope for children suffering from cerebral palsy: an editorial perspective. Undersea Hyperbaric Med. 2014;41:71-74. 4 - Harch, P. Hyperbaric oxygen in chronic traumatic brain injury: oxygen, pressure, and gene therapy. Med Gas Res. 2015;5:9. 5 - Harch P, Mccullough V. The Oxygen Revolution. Hobart, NY: Hatherleigh Press; 2010. 6 - Mukherjee A, Raison M, Sahni T, et.al. Intensive rehabilitation combined with HBO2 therapy in children with cerebral palsy: a controlled longitudinal study. Undersea Hyperbaric Med. 2014;41:77-85. 7 - Harch PG, Fogarty EF. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for Alzheimer’s dementia with positron emission tomography imaging: a case report. Med Gas Res. 2018:8:181-184. 8 -Jain KK. Textbook of Hyperbaric Medicine. New York, NY: Springer International Publishing AG; 2017: 345-348. 9 - Newsome/Melton: Traumatic Brain Injury Statistics, https://www.brainandspinalcord.org/braininjury- statistics/ 10- CDC - TBI-related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths (EDHDs) https:// www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/data/tbi-edhd.html