How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help Stroke Recovery
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is the administration of 100% pure oxygen under greater than normal atmospheric pressure. Although it has only recently gained widespread attention in the United States, HBOT has been used for over 100 years. While it was originally developed for the bends, a diving injury caused by air bubbles in the bloodstream, HBOT’s numerous healing effects have since been recognized. HBOT aids in recovery from so many conditions that it has been described as “a therapy in search of diseases.” By pushing higher levels of oxygen deeper into the body’s systems, HBOT has successfully given life back to a wide variety of patients.
Generally speaking, strokes can be classified as either ischemic or hemorrhagic. Approximately 80% of all strokes are ischemic (Grysiewicz et al., 2008). Current studies have shown that both hemorrhage within the brain and primary ischemia can cause a lack of oxygenation and nutritional supply and a series of neurochemical events that lead to spreading brain damage.1 This inhibits nutrients and blood supply from reaching the damaged parts of the brain and has traditionally made healing limited, if not impossible.
How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy improve patients’ healing? HBOT increases the dissolved oxygen levels in plasma and can even nourish tissues in the absence of red blood cells.2 HBOT also promotes capillary development throughout the body. These changes bring more oxygen and nutrients to cells in need of healing. Hyperbarics solves one of the root dilemmas of stroke recovery by improving nutrient and oxygen circulation to damaged tissues. This allows patients to focus their efforts on training the body to adapt to its rehabilitated function through programs such as neuro physical therapy and neurofeedback.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can give stroke patients back their lives by improving strength, endurance, balance, coordination, motor skill, verbal skill, and memory recall. These improvements can provide the patient a greater level of independence than before. Additional benefits of HBOT in stroke patients include: improved oxygenation, reduced intracranial pressure, improved metabolic rate of cerebral tissue, and inhibited post-stroke cell apoptosis and necrosis.
Are physicians utilizing this as much as they could be?
It's not widely used yet because as you know, it takes time. These are the first studies. In addition to our study, there are other centers now that are doing research, understanding better where it can help and who are the cohorts that can benefit the most. It will take time, but this is a huge advancement. And it's more than that, it's changed the paradigm of how we look at the brain and what is needed for the brain. This is very important.
Unfortunately, not every location will have the capabilities to do both the brain imaging—the metabolic anatomical—together with the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but it will come. This is a start and more studies are on the way, and we will accumulate more and more data. But this is very promising and very exciting, especially the correlation with what we see in the brain, the changes—our ability to see the changes in the brain in addition to the clinical improvement.
What should clinicians know about the use of these methods?
What we learned thus far is that we can characterize the wound in the brain, and if we see an area that is not fully dead, that has metabolic dysfunction—still there, but not fully active—there is a chance for recovery of this area, even years after the acute instance, we are taking patients years after that instance—as long as we see this area. That's a new hope, and that brings a new approach, a new treatment approach to these patients, who unfortunately up to now didn't have any good intervention that can rejuvenate the damaged brain tissue.
How do I qualify to get this in Ontario Canada?
A Referral is required to get Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Ontario, Canada. There are two ways to get this Referral.
1. You can go to the facility and they will complete an assessment for you at a cost of $150.00.
2. If you get a Referral from your Family Doctor or GP, the $150.00 Fee is covered by OHIP, and cost you nothing.
How much will the treatment cost me?
The cost for this treatment varies, so ask around. We checked one facility in Ontario, and this facility always have a Doctor on-site during treatments, along with a Registered Nurse. This facility have 115 minute sessions, and you need at least 10 sessions at $225.00 per session, or $2250.00.
If you have Insurance, it may be covered, or a portion of it. So our advice is to check with your Insurance Company, or prepare to pay out of your own pocket. The actual treatments are not covered by OHIP, only the Referral.
As always, results vary, so there are no guarantees. However, we are always sourcing out new or alternative Stroke Treatments and believe that this one could be worth the investment, and we are in the process of doing our homework. I will be following up with a blog later in the Spring of 2022, with a before, during, and after assessment. With any luck, we may get some on site interviews / information that we can share, with their permission of course, along with my results.
Wish me luck!!
Okay, I do qualify, I have Insurance, or the money, so where can I get Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Ontario, Canada?
There are many places to receive Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Ontario.
Click the link below, and choose the center that best suit your needs. It would be a great idea to call each facility, and have a conversation with them and explain your situation. The closest facility, may not be the best one for you, so do your homework.
So I do not live in Ontario, I live in Newfoundland, what now?
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