Many Stroke Victims See Marked Improvements with HBOT
What is a Stroke?
A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when normal blood flow to the brain gets cut off or when a blood vessel ruptures, resulting in significant damage to brain tissues. Annually, almost 800,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disabilities in the country.
In order to function properly, the brain requires a constant flow of oxygen delivered by the bloodstream. When this oxygen suddenly gets cut off due to a blood clot, blocked artery, plaque buildup in the arteries or bleeding in the brain, a stroke can result. Brain injuries quickly follow. These injuries hinder or even stop the functions that the afflicted brain parts would normally perform in the body. Regaining these functions can take months or years, and some patients suffer permanent damage.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Stroke Recovery
HBOT helps improve blood flow to a stroke patient’s damaged brain tissues. We refer to the small localized area of dead brain tissue resulting from a lack of blood supply as an infarct. The chief factor in a stroke patient’s ability to recover using HBOT or any other therapy is the infarct’s location and size, as well as the size of the infarct’s surrounding area (its penumbra). Acute brain infarctions cause swelling that also increases the pressure on the remaining viable brain structures.
During the therapy, we use pure oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressure to flood the brain, helping to reduce swelling. Throughout the treatments new blood vessels begin to form, bringing vital nutrition to the injured areas in order for them to begin healing. In many cases function is improved or restored. HBOT is painless and completely non-invasive.
How Successful Is HBOT In Recovering Brain Function?
In one study, doctors treated 122 stroke sufferers with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Of these, 16 patients got treatment within four hours following the stroke, and 79 patients got HBOT anywhere from five months to 10 years following the initial stroke – far beyond the time in which they might expect to experience spontaneous improvement. Before entering the study, many of these 79 patients had undergone both physical and occupational therapy, but still suffered from significant impairment. After HBOT, 62 percent of them reported an improved quality of life – including the ability to walk again. Of 59 patients who had been bedridden or in a wheelchair, 27 were able to walk again, either with a cane or independently.
The report’s data also showed that patients receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy spent an average of 177 days hospitalized. That’s just three-fifths of the time it took for conventionally treated patients to get released. And all HBOT patients were able to go directly home, while a large number of the other patients required further rehabilitation at a facility.
Neurologists generally agree that patients are able to achieve 95% of their potential improvement within 6 months of the initial stroke, with an additional 5% occurring by the end of the first year. Though neither HBOT nor any other treatment to date can revive the dead brain tissues that strokes cause, HBOT shows extremely good results in healing the penumbra (the area between damaged tissues and the rest of the non-impacted brain).
Post Stroke Treatment Center
At our post stroke treatment center[http://neurologicalsolutions.org/neurological-services]we may also prescribe other treatments to supplement Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. These include medications that reduce limb spasms, Eotox and other injections that lessen spasticity, and various medications that reduce the chance of further strokes, such as aspirin, Plavix, Aggrenox, Ticlid and Coumadin.
We also offer Physical Therapy to complement HBOT’s effects. Orthopedic doctors order physical therapy for patients recovering from broken bones in order to move and strengthen muscles that have previously been immobilized in a cast. In the same way, patients who have had strokes require physical therapy after a certain number of HBOT treatments in order to regain strength and mobility, as well as to stabilize limbs.
Each Small Improvement Increases Quality of Life At our Post Stroke Treatment Center, we have frequently seen patients move successfully from wheelchairs to walkers after HBOT. We have seen others who exchange walkers for canes or now even walk unassisted. We’ve seen HBOT restore patients’ abilities to speak. Others find slurred speech improves so well that they can return to gainful employment. Each of these occasions represents a great victory: a return of self-esteem, dignity, and even economic stability.
As part of a multi-pronged treatment approach, HBOT can significantly improve stroke victims’ lives. To learn more about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and ways it can benefit your life or that of a loved one, please call 727-787-7077 or click here to request a personalized consultation with Dr. Spiegel. If HBOT is not covered by your insurance, we will discuss options for covering out-of-pocket costs.
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