Brain Strokes are similar to heart strokes. Brain strokes prevent blood from flowing to some parts of the brain. The brain areas that do not receive enough blood will be deprived of oxygen and die eventually. 20% of the oxygen inhaled is used by the brain, you can understand how important is the supply of oxygen to the brain than to any other parts of the body. When the cells in the brain die, the location, the extent of damage to the brain will decide on what capabilities are lost by the individual. Some may lose language skills, some may lose memory, motor skills etc.
Rehabilitation strategies in such patients focus on getting back the lost functionality of the brain areas either by repairing the damaged areas or by creating workarounds in the brain that can take up the lost functionality. However, the rehabilitation treatment options work differently on each individual. HBOT is the advanced alternative treatment which has been proving effective in restoring the normal functioning of the brain by activating or improving neuroplasticity.
What happens when a person experiences brain stroke?
Most commonly, there are two reasons because of which the blood supply gets obstructed or stopped to certain parts of the brain. They are:
- Ischemic Stroke – a blood clot. This can be a transient (temporary) or permanent. In the case when a person experiences transient ischemic stroke, the functional loss of brain will be temporary and gets restored once the clot goes away. But in the case of permanent ischemic stroke, the damage remains.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke – a ruptured artery.
Depending on the location of the clots or the artery that is ruptured, the connecting tissues and cells of the brain fall short of oxygen and die. This effect can cause temporary or permanent disabilities in the individual including:
- Loss of motor skills in some parts of the body such as legs or arms etc.
- Losing speaking skills
- Memory loss
- Loss of thinking ability
- Inability to swallow food
- Emotional problems
- Behavioral changes
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is an advanced alternative treatment option for several medical conditions including sports injuries, brain stokes, anti ageing, fibromyalgia etc. The patient/person is made to lie down and moved into an air tight oxygen chamber where the pressure is usually 3 times higher than normal atmospheric pressure. Breathing pure oxygen at higher pressure ensures that more oxygen enters the blood and fills all the tissues and cells and helps in their restoration and healing.
When a patient who has suffered from brain stoke is treated with HBO Therapy, the additional oxygen that enters into the blood stream helps in activating neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the process in which the brain develops new/alternative pathways to work around the damaged areas of the brain. This helps in repairing and restoring the normal functions of the body that were affected due to the damage. In a study conducted for 2 months on patients who have suffered from brain stoke, HBOT has shown significant improvement and restoration of bodily functions such as reversal of paralysis, increased sensation, better speaking etc.
Usually one session of HBOT takes 2 hours and multiple sessions in a week or month will be scheduled by the specialist depending on the progress of recovery.
Are there any risks associated with HBOT?
As with any kind of treatment, HBOT has got it’s own risk but the complications are very rare. Possible risks include:
- Myopia – Nearsightedness
- Middle ear injuries due to the extra pressure in the chamber
- Barotrauma – Lung collapse
- Oxygen toxicity – Some times, too much oxygen in the body can cause seizures
- Fire – Any malfunction of the device can cause fire inside the chamber and the oxygen present in it can aid the fire.
Only trained and specialized professionals are allowed to operate the HBOT chambers at Chennai Hyperbaric Clinic in order to minimize the risks.