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Concussions, Brain Injury and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain that occurs from both mild and severe blows to the head. This can lead to bruising of the brain, tearing of blood vessels, and injury to the nerves. Symptoms may include; noise and light sensitivity, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, anxiety and loss of concentration and memory. 

After a brain-injury blood capillaries around the injured area are torn allowing the blood plasma to leak out causing swelling. Brain imaging shows decreased blood flow to regions responsible for cognitive functions such as memory, attention, planning and execution, problem solving and decision making. Reduction in blood flow reduces oxygen to the area and a build up of waste products resulting in the shut down of normal cell function and decreased brain activity. Because of the damage, the red blood cells bringing the healing oxygen can’t get through and the plasma continues to leak, maintaining the swelling and the post-concussion syndrome.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a method of administering pure oxygen under pressure to a patient allowing oxygen to dissolve into all the bodily fluids. Thus the cerebral, spinal, lymph and intracellular fluid and the blood plasma all absorb high levels of oxygen. This increases oxygen levels to areas of poor or compromised blood supply. The therapy ensures oxygen to the damaged capillaries which will then begin to heal.  As the capillaries heal, their torn walls close and plasma leakage into the surrounding brain tissue stops. The swelling gradually goes down and normal blood supply is slowly restored supplying the essential nutrition and washing away of waste products. 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy heals the injured area and addresses the post-concussion symptoms at the root of the problem. Success is higher in early stages although good results occur even if the injury was sustained years ago. Time is needed to create the optimum environment for the brain to heal with slow and steady improvement during the course of therapy and the possibility of a sudden breakthrough.

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