Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Options for Stroke Recovery
Stroke prevalence has spurred scientists to develop more effective stroke recovery therapies, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
Recovery from an ischemic or TIA (“mini stroke”) may not be guaranteed, but this much is clear: people who receive timely and effective treatment recover with fewer post-stroke effects.
Unfortunately, timely treatment is not always attainable:
- Stroke is a “leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.”
- “More than half of stroke survivors age 65 and older” experience reduced mobility, relegating some individuals to a wheelchair for the remainder of their lives. Many struggle with cognitive function, speech difficulties, and visual impairments as well.
Thankfully, advanced rehabilitation programs exist, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) options and other therapies. The experts at Aviv Clinics discuss these key details below.
What Happens to the Brain during a Stroke?
When a stroke strikes, it immediately starts killing brain cells due to loss of blood flow. As many as two million brain cells die each minute the stroke goes untreated. Other cells become injured but don’t necessarily die off. Neurologists often describe them as being “stunned”.
Still, a significant part of the brain’s real estate comes under attack. The combined damage from injured and necrotic (dead) brain cells results in both immediate and long-term symptoms such as:
- Limb weakness or paralysis
- Slurred speech
- Vision complications
- Balance issues.
Nothing can be done about the dead brain cells, which is why timely intervention is so critical. However, a growing body of research indicates that HBOT can help repair the injured cells, even years after the initial stroke
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a type of therapy that uses pressurized chambers to allow individuals to breathe in 100% pure oxygen.
In the hyperbaric suites at Aviv Clinics, the air is pressurized in the HBOT chamber to above atmospheric levels. This environment increases oxygen levels in the body to about 17 times higher than normal, allowing oxygen to be delivered even to damaged cells, such as those injured by stroke.
How Does HBOT Help with the Post-Stroke Recovery Process?
The unique HBOT protocol at Aviv Clinics uses a scientifically validated process in which oxygen levels are fluctuated throughout the HBOT session. When the mask is on, oxygen levels are very high. But, when the mask is off, the body is deceived into sensing a state of “low” oxygen because of the rapid decline.
This fluctuation triggers the body into repair and regeneration mode, which in turn:
- Stimulates stem cell proliferation
- Improves injured cell health
- Builds new blood vessels, optimizing blood flow
- Grows new connections in the brain
In the past, growing those new connections was inconceivable. Scientists previously believed that once neurons were destroyed, they could never rebound. Research has since disproved that notion.
What Benefits Can Stroke Survivors Achieve with HBOT?
Several studies have proven the benefits of using HBOT in post-stroke recovery. Repair mechanisms in the brain, prompted by HBOT, result in:
- Regained speech and reading capabilities
- Restored motor function, even with paresis
- Return to independence in performing daily activities
The Aviv Medical Program
When combined with the exercise, personalized nutrition, and extensive assessments that are part of the Aviv Medical Program, the outcomes become even more impressive:
- Some Aviv clients progress from using wheelchairs to walking on their own or with an assistive device.
- Clients who lost their ability to speak make immense recovery strides.
- Many report that the biggest benefit is simply not being a “burden” on their loved ones.
Our post-stroke program remains focused on research and incorporates a holistic and personalized approach that can include the following:
- In-depth review of health history
- Comprehensive physical exam
- Highly advanced brain imaging scans
- Neurological and neurocognitive tests
- Body composition analysis
- A detailed report of our assessment findings
- Cognitive training
- Physical training
- Dietary coaching
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
- A post-treatment report of your improvements and recommendations for future progress
Even if a person has no visible effects after having a stroke, the brain has still been damaged—and they are at a higher risk for a subsequent stroke. HBOT, through the Aviv Medical Program, can help mitigate that risk by improving the flow of blood to brain tissue and potentially prevent future strokes from occurring.
How Soon after a Stroke Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Be Administered?
Aviv Clinics recommends a 3-6 month wait after a stroke before beginning the Aviv Medical Program protocols. This allows for the brain’s natural healing progression to take hold.
The sooner stroke survivors act after the post-acute stage, the better. The research our scientists have done indicates a strong cohort from the one-month point to four years post-stroke.
That said, there’s really no limit on how long after a stroke individuals can participate in the program. We’ve seen success in clients who were as many as 10 years into their stroke recovery.
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Most people see improvement from the Aviv Medical Program within the 8-12 weeks of therapy and medically verifiable results by the end of their treatment.
But keep in mind, no one-size-fits-all approach exists. You’ll receive your own unique therapy plan, so outcomes and timelines vary. Our ability to quantify your health plan is ultimately what delivers results.
For reference, here is a general overview of what our program looks like:
- Step 1: Assessment—A comprehensive set of neurocognitive, physical, and genomic assessments.
- Step 2: Treatment—Based on the assessment, we develop a customized routine that can include hyperbaric oxygen sessions with other types of personalized training/therapies. These may take place over 12 weeks.
- Step 3: Analysis—Our team uses advanced analytics to assess your program’s efficacy, and make the necessary adjustments.
- Step 4: Follow up—The Aviv Clinics team will offer ongoing monitoring and engagement post-treatment to help maintain your results.
Keren Trabelsi Finds Hope after Her Stroke
“[Treatment at Aviv is] like driving a Ferrari on the road to recovery versus driving like an old beaten-up car….”
Former Aviv Clinics client Keren underwent an ischemic stroke. This caused cognitive issues and paralysis on the left side of her body. Daily tasks grew more difficult, which left her feeling defeated.
Fortunately, Keren found the Aviv Medical Program. Aviv Clinics provided a personalized treatment plan encompassing many of the therapies we outlined earlier.
Thirteen months later, Keren can walk comfortably, type with her left hand again, and engage in a myriad of activities (crossword puzzles, Sudoku, etc.) she couldn’t participate in after her stroke.
The Bottom Line
Stroke survivors no longer need to feel like life is over due to debilitating cognitive and physical impairments. The Aviv Medical Program is rooted in extensive scientific research and has been instrumental in helping stroke survivors thrive well into their golden years.
Contact us to learn more about the Aviv Medical Program and how it can benefit you or a loved one.