Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke. One in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime. Stroke is the leading cause of death for Americans and the leading cause of serious long-term disability.1 A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is stopped either by a blockage (ischemic stroke) or a ruptured blood vessel (subarachnoid hemorrhage or ruptured aneurysm). The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke. Damage in the brain from a stroke can happen very quickly, as the cells begin to die without oxygen. Until clot-dissolving drugs were developed in the 1980s, there was no treatment for the most common type of stroke (ischemic).
Stroke survivors can have life-long residual symptoms and disabilities as a result of injured brain tissue from the stroke and recovery can be very difficult. Most of the recovery is made within 30 days after a stroke, although some people experience improvements for at least 90 days. Some of these symptoms include pain, difficulty walking or balancing, speech impairment or speech loss, memory loss, mood swings, irritability, and difficulty eating or swallowing. Life in the aftermath of a stroke can be complicated and difficult for anyone to cope with, especially if they were previously healthy and active.
The common belief in neurology is that a stroke is only treatable if therapy can be delivered within four to five hours of the stroke. World-renowned hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) expert, Dr. Paul Harch, says this is simply not true. When a patient can begin treatment early, it is true there is a much higher chance of healing and recovery. However, studies show HBOT can be effective at all stages of recovery including acute, subacute (weeks to months), and chronic (greater than 6 months). The key is reoxygenating the stroke-damaged tissue, which is exactly what hyperbaric oxygen therapy does. Research done by Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and showed that clinical improvements were achieved regardless of the type, location or side of the stroke.
By going under pressure, oxygen is forced to dissolve into the plasma and get to the injured areas, saturating the hypoxic tissue, improving blood flow, inducing neuroplasticity and providing healing. Dr. Harch shares in his interview on HBOT News Network , “The concept is rooted in the idea that brain cells don’t have to die, that they can be partially injured and can be revived.” He describes it as an “idling neuron” state, which is like an intermediate state where the neuron has been injured and knocked down to the idling level. “It does not have enough metabolic capacity to send its electrical signals and if the neuron can’t send its signals, it can’t give you function.”
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a 300-year old medical therapy that works by using 100% pure oxygen under pressure to reoxygenate idling neurons in the damaged tissue before they die. HBOT has no known effect on dead brain tissue. Hyperbaric oxygen will stimulate new blood vessel growth which contributes to further return of function. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is a very easy and safe treatment, especially for older patients who suffer stroke and may have difficulty with more intensive treatments. Once the brain has begun to heal, it is quite possible the patient will be more responsive to physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Our patients who have received HBOT for stroke recovery have reported experiencing significant improvement in strength, endurance, balance, memory, mood and motor skills. Some patients also feel less pain, begin to speak more clearly with noticeable improvement in their ability to perform daily activities. Even small gains, as our patient Ron reports, can have a significant impact on quality of life. And when coupled with other therapies for stroke, HBOT can often have even greater benefits. Click here to see Ron’s story of his stroke recovery with 40 sessions of HBOT.
To find out if hyperbaric oxygen therapy for stroke recovery may be right for you or a loved one, call us today at 757-452-3934.
- CDC Stroke Facts, https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.html
*Disclaimer: Information provided here is not to be considered medical advice. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for non-approved, off-label indications is considered to be investigational.