Hyperbaric Chamber Stroke Part 2






Hyperbaric Chambers

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers Wounds

Hyperbaric oxygen works to improve stroke and TBI patients by repairing and generating new blood vessels to the injured parts of the brain. Once the ischemic tissues no longer suffer from a lack of oxygen, they are able to begin to repair the injured neurons, glial cells and extracellular matrix. The generation of new blood vessels occurs as a direct result of daily hyperbaric oxygen treatments. This does not occur with pure oxygen at normal atmospheric pressures. The number of treatments required varies for each individual but in my experience the best results occur when at least 60 daily treatments are done. If only 20 to 30 treatments are done, the patient will often experience “backsliding” and may lose some of the improvement they gained from the hyperbaric oxygen treatments. In addition, some patients will not even begin to improve until they have had more than 30 or 40 treatments.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy feels much like going for a ride in a modern day jet Ð the chamber even looks like the cockpit of a jet fighter plane! As you start your treatment you are sitting upright at a comfortable angle inside of this cockpit-like chamber. You have an oxygen mask over your mouth and nose, the door is shut and you feel a slight movement of air as the chamber begins to be filled with more air. As the air enters the chamber you may notice a slight discomfort in one or both ears just like you have experienced while flying in the large commercial jets. You may choose to swallow, chew gum or hold your nose and blow outward to help equalize the pressure in your ears. We have seen three patients out of more than 500 who have had enough pain and discomfort in clearing their ears that we have had to send them to the ear specialist for a simple insertion of a small tube through the ear drum. In these cases, this cured the problem so the person was able to continue with the program without further pain and with no problems with their hearing.

Severe, advanced emphysema may be a contraindication if the person has large lung bullae (large air filled sacks within the lung). The bullae may trap the oxygen and rupture while the person is decompressing. The presence of large bullae can be checked by ordering a CT exam of the chest.

Patients who have had a seizure worry about having another episode while in the chamber. K.K. Jain1 the MD neurosurgeon who wrote the Textbook of Hyperbaric Medicine states, “Seizures are extremely rare and no more than a chance occurrence during HBO sessions at pressures between 1.5 and 2 ATA even in patients with a history of epilepsy.” Our experience is similar.

Claustrophobia is an often voiced fear but once the person begins to work with our technicians, he or she is generally able to overcome their fears without a problem.

Muscle, bone and peripheral nerve dysfunction and atrophy are also major factors that are present in many patients. This is due to inactivity, loss of weight bearing, hormonal deficiencies, mineral deficiencies and a variety of different disease states. These dysfunctions and atrophy require aggressive, daily rehabilitative efforts for a minimum of two months to produce significant, long term beneficial results.

From a practical point of view, the patient who is being considered for hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be tested to determine if he/she is a candidate. A 3-D SPECT scan (single photon computerized tomogram) for determining cerebral blood flow is available at most larger hospitals in the USA. If this test is done and shows diminished brain blood flow, the patient has a good chance for significant improvement with a course of hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

The treatments are usually 90 minutes each day for 60 days. In my experience, this protocol produces the best overall results when the therapy is given in combination with other treatments such as physical, occupational and biofeedback therapy. Our average patient comes to us 2-1/2 years after their stroke or TBI. They usually have gone through all of the standard therapies and have not improved over the past year despite continuing physical therapy and an active exercise program. They or their family members recognize their lack of improvement and come to us as “the last hope.” Due to the severity of their disabilities and their failure to improve with conventional therapies, most patients hope that the use of hyperbaric oxygen will produce gratifying results. However, even with 60 days of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, the results may not reach their expectations, especially if only hyperbaric oxygen is used. Most every patient we see would like to maximize their chances of improving while they are attending our clinic. In view of their desires and the fact that the combination of hyperbaric oxygen and other therapies produces improved overall results, we offer daily physical, occupational, speech, vision, biofeedback, nutritional, vitamin, hormonal and growth factor therapies to help our patients reach their maximum recovery potential.

In addition to the use of the above mentioned therapies I have also found that many patients have other disease processes which must be treated to maximize their recovery. Many patients when entering our program suffer from chronic urinary tract or other infections, have autoimmune disorders such as vasculitis, suffer from diabetes and diabetic neuropathy, have osteoporosis of the paralyzed limb(s), have serious atherosclerosis or have hormonal deficiencies. All of these conditions and problems must be addressed to help maximize the patient’s healing.

Results of Fifty Cases:

Fifty stable and no longer improving stroke patients (average age 62 years) with an average time of 28 months since their stroke received hyperbaric oxygen therapy for 90 minutes each day, 6 days a week for 60 treatments, as well as physical therapy for 2 hours and EEG Biofeedback for 30 minutes each day, 5 days a week. Physical therapist’s evaluations and patient’s questionnaires were collected prior to and after the program.

Results from patients’ questionnaires showed that 95.83% of the patients or their family members believed that the patient experienced one or more improvements in their motor ability, sensitivity to touch and temperature, bladder and bowel control, cognition, memory, speech, sight and hearing. At the conclusion of the program, 29% of the patients ranked the program as good, 42% of the patients ranked it as excellent, and 25% reported that this program was stupendous.

The physical therapist’s evaluation included range of motion, extremity’s strength, bed mobility, bed to chair transfers and body’s balance level. By the therapist’s evaluations, 100% of the patients showed improvements in one or more functions. Of those, 18% had a mild gain, 48% received a good gain, and 34% an excellent gain.

No side effects or problems were encountered with the combination of therapies for treating chronic stroke patients.

Improvement Level Evaluated by Patients
Function Evaluated
Bowel Control
Urine Control
Stand Up
Sit Down
Leg’s Movement
Arm’s Sensitivity
Arm’s Movement

Santa Ana California USA
Armidale Australia
Gresham Oregon USA
Vallejo California USA
Roseville, California
Knoxville Tennessee USA
Queanbeyan Australia
Shepparton, Victoria
Iceland, Rekyavik
Geraldton Victoria Australia