Case report: Treatment of mild traumatic brain injury with hyperbaric oxygen

Undersea Hyperb Med. 2009 Nov-Dec;36(6):391-9.


Two United States Air Force Airmen were injured in a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Iraq in January 2008. Both airmen suffered concussive injuries and developed irritability, sleep disturbances, headaches, memory difficulties and cognitive difficulties as symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Six months after injury, repeat Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics (ANAM) testing showed deterioration, when compared to pre-injury baseline ANAM assessment, in all measured areas (simple reaction time, procedural reaction time, code substitution learning, code substitution delayed, mathematical processing, and matching to sample). The airmen were treated with hyperbaric oxygen in treatments of 100% oxygen for one hour at 1.5 atmospheres absolute, resulting in rapid improvement of headaches and sleep disturbances, improvement in all symptoms and resolution of most symptoms. Repeat ANAM testing after completion of the hyperbaric treatments - nine months after initial injury - showed improvement in all areas, with most measures improving to pre-injury baseline levels. The airmen received no other treatment besides medical monitoring. Repeat neuropsychologic testing confirmed the improvement. We conclude that the improvement in symptoms and ANAM performance is most likely attributable to HBO treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Blast Injuries / complications
  • Blast Injuries / therapy*
  • Brain Concussion / complications
  • Brain Concussion / therapy
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel
  • Post-Traumatic Headache / therapy
  • Sleep Disorders, Intrinsic / etiology
  • Sleep Disorders, Intrinsic / therapy
  • Young Adult