For a long time, treatments for trau-
matic brain injury (TBI) have been nonexis-
tent, and people experiencing TBI have had
to deal with varying levels of physical, men-
tal, and emotional disability because of it.
However, new research has confirmed
previous theories that hyperbaric oxy-
gen therapy (HBOT) can be an effective
treatment for TBI—and now possibly even
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This
research, conducted by Dr. Paul Harch, a
New Orleans-based hyperbaric medicine
physician and researcher, could have sig-
nificant implications for modern TBI and
What is traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined by
the Centers for Disease Control and Preven-
tion as any “bump, blow or jolt to the head
or a penetrating head injury that disrupts
it’s going to
the fields of
stressed conditions, such as low oxygen,
high altitude or sleep deprivation, the
effects of the old injury can return.
Patients most commonly report head-
aches as a symptom, which has been iden-
tified as likely being due to injury to the
meninges, where sensation occurs. Other
common symptoms include fatigue, dizzi-
ness, attention and concentration difficul-
ties, short-termmemory loss, sleep disrup-
tion, irritability, mood swings, depression,
and anxiety, among others.
Not all blows to the head cause TBI.
When they do, they can range from mild,
with just a momentary change in
consciousness or mental sta-
tus, to severe, which can
cause a longer period
of unconsciousness or
amnesia after the inci-
dent, the CDC reports.
Regardless of severity, all
TBI cases can have vary-
ing effects on the brain.
According to the CDC, the
leading cause of TBI is falls, which
accounted for 40% of all TBI-related emer-
gency department visits, hospitalizations
or deaths in the U.S. from 2006-2010. Falls
were a particularly high cause of brain
trauma for children aged 0 to 14 (55 per-
cent) and adults aged 65 and older (81%).
Other causes include blunt trauma, such
as being hit by an object, motor vehicle
crashes, assaults, or essentially any incident
that rattles the brain around in the skull.
the normal function of the
brain.”This trauma causes
damage to the white mat-
ter, the tracts for which
snap and cause loss of
This damage, says
Dr. Harch, is “like lower-
ing bandwidth.” Process-
ing speed slows down, which
means people are slower at think-
ing, have trouble multi-tasking and often
can’t be in high sensory stimulation envi-
ronments. The brain can form new path-
ways, which enables many people with TBI
to adapt rather than succumb to severe,
debilitating neurological issues.
However, instead of forming a complete
pathway, the brain extends the existing
damaged pathways to try to maintain or
replace the connections that are lost. Under
Stephen Hales creates a
device to measure blood
pressure in horses.
Italian physician Sanctorius adapts
the thermometer for clinical use.
Anton van Leeuwenhoek creates the
light microscope and later publishes
drawings of the bacteria he observes.
Traumatic brain injury
is on the rise in the
U.S. The CDC reported that between 2001
and 2010, rates of TBI-related emergency
department visits rose by 70 percent while
hospitalization rates increased by 11 percent
and death rates decreased by 7 percent.