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Hyperbaric Oxygen and Brain Health

Dr. Ken Kaskie: High-Pressure Hyperbaric Therapy

Here is on supporting peer-reviewed study.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by changes in both brain activity and microstructural integrity. Cumulative evidence demonstrates that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) induces neuroplasticity and case-series studies indicate its potentially positive effects on PTSD. The aim of the study was to evaluate HBOT’s effect in veterans with treatment resistant PTSD.


Veterans with treatment resistant PTSD were 1:1 randomized to HBOT or control groups. All other brain pathologies served as exclusion criteria. Outcome measures included clinician-administered PTSD scale-V (CAPS-V) questionnaires, brief symptom inventory (BSI), BECK depression inventory (BDI), brain microstructural integrity evaluated by MRI diffuse tensor imaging sequence (DTI), and brain function was evaluated by an n-back task using functional MRI (fMRI). The treatment group underwent sixty daily hyperbaric sessions. No interventions were performed in the control group.


Thirty-five veterans were randomized to HBOT (N = 18) or control (n = 17) and 29 completed the protocol. Following HBOT, there was a significant improvement in CAPS-V scores and no change in the control (F = 30.57, P<0.0001, Net effect size = 1.64). Significant improvements were also demonstrated in BSI and BDI scores (F = 5.72, P = 0.024 Net effect size = 0.89, and F = 7.65, P = 0.01, Net effect size = 1.03). Improved brain activity was seen in fMRI in the left dorsolateral prefrontal, middle temporal gyri, both thalami, left hippocampus and left insula. The DTI showed significant increases in fractional anisotropy in the fronto-limbic white-matter, genu of the corpus callosum and fornix.


HBOT improved symptoms, brain microstructure, and functionality in veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves inhaling 100% oxygen at pressures exceeding 1 atmosphere absolute (ATA), thus enhancing the amount of oxygen dissolved in the body's tissues. Many of HBOT's beneficial effects can be explained by improvements in tissue/cerebral oxygenation. However, intermittent hyperoxia and hyperbaric pressure trigger both oxygen- and pressure-sensitive genes [9].

Additionally, increases in cerebral metabolic rates, restoration of mitochondrial functions, stimulation of cell proliferation and maturation of endogenous neural stem cells, and induction of anti-inflammatory, angiogenic and neurogenic factors have all been demonstrated after HBOT(9).

Cumulative evidence from post-stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) studies demonstrates that HBOT induces neuroplasticity in the chronic metabolic dysfunctional brain regions even years after the brain insult [10,11].

Recent studies have also demonstrated HBOT-induced neuroplasticity and significant clinical improvements in patients with fibromyalgia, including those in whom fibromyalgia was induced by child abuse [12,13].


TreatNOW is an organization committed to reducing suicides.

The TreatNOW Coalition is a nationwide network of veterans, doctors, clinicians, economists, and activists on a mission to save America’s veterans from the suicide and opioid epidemics. The Coalition promotes brain healing treatments like hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). It connects veterans suffering from concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with life-altering medicine. Its goal is to transition veterans from a lifetime of pain to a fulfilled, healthy, and robust life. TreatNOW has returned over 21,000 veterans, athletes, first responders, and citizens to work, school, or active duty.


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