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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

PTSD treatments.

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

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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

electrical transmission.

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.

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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.