Background: Recently, the effect of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO(2)) therapy was explored in the treatment of chronic TBI. It has been speculated that idling neurons in the penumbra zone remain viable several years after injury and might be reactivated by enhanced oxygenation. We studied the therapeutic potential of HBO(2) therapy in a 54-year-old man who had sustained traumatic brain injuries one year before testing that resulted in permanent neurological symptoms.
Methods: Two treatment series separated by a one-year inter-session interval were administered. Treatment series consisted of 20 and 60 daily one-hour exposures to 100% oxygen at 2 ATA. Electrophysiological (event-related potentials), metabolic and behavioral (sensorimotor and neuropsychological) measurements were obtained to evaluate the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on neurocognitive functioning.
Results: Following the initial treatment, the patient showed improvements in sensorimotor functions, as well as enhanced P300 amplitude in the damaged hemisphere. Although most of these gains were no longer observed one year after treatment, these were reinstated with an additional series of 60 exposures. Neuropsychological improvements were also observed after the completion of the second series of treatments.
Conclusion: The present single-case study provides preliminary evidence of neuropsychological and electrophysiological improvements after series of 20 and 60 treatments, although the first dosage appeared to be insufficient to produce permanent benefits. Longitudinal studies using different treatment parameters should be conducted if we are to systematically investigate long-term improvements resulting from HBO(2) therapy.