A 5-year study of patients with severe traumatic brain injury conducted at [removed]Hennepin County Medical Center[/removed], Minneapolis, shows significant benefit of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to improve brain metabolism and its ability to recover from injury. The results were recently published in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Every year, more than 1.4 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI)—the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults. Those who survive often face months or even years of therapy, and sometimes the damage to the brain is irreversible. Decreased use of oxygenated blood to brain tissue immediately after the injury is often to blame.

Cells need oxygen to fuel metabolism for cellular growth and repair. Healthy brains produce their own energy to maintain brain tissue and keep the rest of the body doing what it’s supposed to do. That includes automatic processes such as breathing and circulation, and voluntary actions such as walking and talking. After a traumatic brain injury, the brain itself needs care. Barriers to blood flow can be compromised from the impact of the injury itself, and then when the brain swells inside the skull, a secondary injury can occur that causes even more brain damage.

Within 24 hours after injury, eligible patients for the study were randomized into three groups: One group received normobaric treatment: oxygen delivered at the patient’s bedside; another group received hyperbaric treatment in Hennepin County Medical Center’s hyperbaric oxygen chamber; and a third (control) group did not receive additional oxygen therapy. All groups received the intensive standard of care for brain injury consistent with good clinical practice. The patients who received higher levels of oxygen (hyperoxia) via the hyperbaric oxygen chamber were found to have a marked increase in positive brain metabolism when compared to the normobaric and control group.

This research provides important preliminary data for a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported multicenter trial. NIH trials directly assess the ability to improve clinical outcomes, which is the final step needed to change standard clinical processes. Currently standard clinical practice does not include hyperbaric oxygen for traumatic brain injury.

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Hennepin County Medical Center offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary patient care education and research to serve people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Providing a range of state-of-the-art medical and rehabilitative services, HCMC’s expertise spans the continuum of care for adult and pediatric TBI patients, from prevention to emergency care, neurosurgery, critical care, rehabilitation, and the Mild to Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic.

[Source: [removed]Hennepin County Medical Center[/removed]]