In the quest to adequately diagnose and respond to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), scientists and doctors have developed a variety of treatment options. Among those is the hyperbaric chamber, which provides pure oxygen to the patient. While many professionals believe in the effectiveness of these treatments on TBI patients, a recent article in The New York Times is raising questions about whether the hyperbaric chamber is truly providing any benefit.
How It Works
The Mayo Clinic, explains that hyperbaric oxygen therapy works by providing pure oxygen to patients while they are inside a pressurized environment. Doctors commonly use the treatment for wounds that are not healing correctly, along with various illnesses. The process begins with the patient’s placement within an oxygen therapy chamber. Air pressure in the chamber is steadily raised to three times the normal levels. Patients breathe in large amounts of pure oxygen at pressures that even exceed those at sea level.
According to Kent Hospital, the therapy works when the oxygen “saturates the patient’s circulatory system… resulting in increased oxygen delivery to tissues.” This helps to:
***Absorb oxygen into the blood’s plasma
***Increase activity among white blood cells
***Enhances blood vessel formation among injuries with wounded tissue
As stated in the Times article, many TBI patients report a decrease in symptoms and pain after undergoing a series of chamber treatments, but three different studies reportedly concluded that these believed benefits are more psychological than physical.
Testing The Theory
To test the effectiveness of hyperbaric treatment, researchers conducted a study involving two groups of TBI patients. One group received a series of hyperbaric chamber treatments, while the other group did not. Instead they were placed into a slightly pressurized chamber, so they felt as though they were receiving treatment when they were only receiving about 20 percent oxygen. Researchers found that both groups of patients reported benefits from the treatments. This is explained as a placebo effect, where patients feel better based on their belief that the treatment is working. In response, several other research studies are underway addressing the effectiveness of hyperbaric chamber treatments.
Dr. Enoch T. Huang is an official at the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. He is quoted in the Times article as stating, “I don’t offer this treatment in my facility for mild traumatic brain injury because I’m not convinced it works.” He went on to explain that there is a lack of evidence to prove effectiveness with concussion patients.
The best method of TBI treatment continues to elude doctors and researchers. Though medical professionals work tirelessly to lessen the substantial impact of these injuries, there is still a long way to go before these patients experience real, lasting relief.
If you or a loved is suffering with a severe brain injury at the hands of another, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation. These knowledgeable attorneys will aggressively work to secure the compensation to which you are entitled.
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