Use of hyperbaric oxygen in traumatic brain injury: retrospective analysis of data of 20 patients treated at a tertiary care centre

Br J Neurosurg. 2012 Apr;26(2):202-7. doi: 10.3109/02688697.2011.626879. Epub 2011 Nov 15.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) related impact results in a permanent need for help in performing daily activities. Standard treatment consists of removing the cause, restore perfusion, support metabolic requirement and limit inflammatory and oxidative damage. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one such newer promising treatment that enhances neurological recovery to some extent. HBOT is intermittent inhalation of 100% oxygen at greater than normal atmospheric pressure and is internationally accepted for its role in well-defined indications. It is hypothesised that HBO has a role in reviving 'idling neurons', also called the ischemic penumbra defined as area of reduced cerebral blood flow, abolished synaptic activity but preserved structural integrity. We carried out a retrospective analysis of medical records of 20 patients of TBI who had been treated with HBOT in addition to standard management. These were placed in Group A (test group) and received at least 30 sessions of HBO along with standard treatment. The patients were assessed along the Disability Rating Scale (DRS), Glasgow coma scale (GCS) and Rancho Los Amigos Scale (RLAS). Another 20 patients of TBI, matched in age and severity of brain injury, who received standard treatment but not HBOT, were selected as the control group (Group B). Assessment on the DRS showed maximum improvement in patients with scores of 22-24 (vegetative state).The percentage of patients in the test group fell from 45% to 5% whereas only 20% patients in Group B had similar progress. After the treatment, a significantly higher proportion of HBOT treated subjects showed a good response in cognitive functions, as measured by RLA. In group A, 90% patients had a score of ≤ 3 and in Group B 95% had a similar score, which improved to ≥ 3 in 60% patients versus 30% patients respectively. In both groups maximum patients are in 1-6 months post-injury category and within the groups this category showed the greatest recovery, with a greater improvement in the test group as compared to control group.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Persistent Vegetative State / therapy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult