Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to Address TBI and Concussion

Head injuries are much more common than one might think. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there were over 64,000 TBI-related deaths in 2020, which equates to more than 175 brain injury-related deaths every day.

Those most affected include adolescents aged 15-19 and adults older than 65. Among seniors, falls are the most common cause of TBIs—a pervasive problem that can be mitigated with a few key strategies.

Yet, despite how pervasive TBIs are, many people don’t realize when they’re experiencing the “traumatic” incident. At one time, a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which many know simply as a concussion, was actually thought to be a benign event. With much research, experts now know that even small, repeated injuries to the brain can have significant effects. These injuries can contribute to adverse neuropsychological outcomes—both acutely and long-term.

For example, in the moment, a concussion might cause dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and vomiting. But over time, that same injury or repeated injuries may contribute to ongoing symptoms, such as chronic headaches, trouble concentrating or thinking clearly, memory problems, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Some people may not even connect an injury that happened years ago with their current symptoms, which can make it difficult to properly diagnose a TBI or post-concussion syndrome.

Unfortunately, the incidence of TBI and concussion persists. Per the Brain Injury Association of America, cumulative evidence shows that an estimated 5.3 million men, women, and children are living with a permanent TBI-related disability in the U.S. today.

Yet, does it have to be “permanent”?

HBOT’s Role in Relieving TBI Symptoms

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Dedicated research into brain healing reveals a therapy that produces positive results in cases of TBI and post-concussion syndrome. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has historically been accepted as an effective treatment for medical issues like wound healing, severe infections, and decompression sickness. For some time, HBOT had not been explored much beyond those applications.

However, research in the last two decades reveals that HBOT, in combination with certain cognitive, nutritional, and physiological protocols, is able to repair areas of the brain that have been damaged due to TBI and concussion, as well as stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and other neurological conditions.

What Results Can Individuals Expect?

To understand how HBOT works to address TBI and post-concussion damage, it’s important to know what changes occur in the brain during those injuries. Structural damage indicates a physical impact on the brain, such as bleeding. Metabolic damage is present when the brain’s cells are affected.

Traditional scans like CT and MRI may not be able to detect metabolic damage, especially if an injury occurred years ago. More advanced scans—like functional MRI and SPECT—are better able to identify areas of the brain that may be producing chronic post-concussion symptoms.

Applying HBOT and the unique protocols of the Aviv Medical Program yields multiple changes in the brain:

  • New blood vessel formation (angiogenesis)
  • New and stronger neural connections
  • Stem cell production

These neural, vascular, and cellular changes contribute to cognitive improvements in memory, executive function, attention, processing speed, and spatial memory. Individuals with brain-based motor skill challenges also benefit from this comprehensive therapy.

Elements of the Aviv Medical Program also include cognitive therapy, strength and physical training, and nutritional coaching. The physiological and nutritional aspects of Aviv Clinics’ customized protocol elicit enhancements such as greater aerobic fitness, higher energy levels, improved sleep, and reduced pain. Overall, individuals report a significant improvement in their quality of life after completing the program

Bottom Line

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If you’ve ever been in a car accident, fallen off a horse, or had “your bell rung” playing sports, you may have experienced a brain injury that could still be impacting your health. The Aviv Medical Program can help ease your symptoms.

If you or a loved one suspects a TBI or concussion has left lingering symptoms, contact us to learn more about how investing 90 days into treatment could change the rest of your life.

What is a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber and How Does It Work?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) exists as an effective treatment for specific health conditions, including decompression sickness, serious infections, non-healing wounds, and severe burns. Advancements in HBOT science have also emerged, expanding the potential of HBOT’s impact. Yet, not all HBOT chambers are the same. The mechanisms by which each chamber works serve different purposes. It’s important to understand how these chambers operate and what benefits can be achieved in order to reach your health goals.

Monoplace vs. Multiplace HBOT Chambers

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Aviv Clinics uses the world’s most advanced multiplace hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers.

Two main types of HBOT chambers exist: multiplace and monoplace. Monoplace HBOT chambers also take two forms—hard-sided and soft-sided. Both forms are designed to only accommodate one person at a time.

Soft-sided monoplace chambers, often referred to as bag HBOT chambers, are primarily used “on the go.” These HBOT chambers pressurize to a minimum amount of pressure and deliver only a slightly higher dose of oxygen than what you’re breathing in the natural environment.

Soft-sided HBOT chambers are mostly used for anti-inflammation and workout or game recovery. You’ll often see them in sports medicine clinics. Bag chambers are also used in mountain climbing. If a climber starts to suffer from altitude sickness, being in the bag chamber allows them to return to sea level faster and start recovery as they are airlifted to safety.

The other type of monoplace HBOT chamber is constructed of more rigid materials, such as plexiglass. You’ll typically find these chambers in wound care clinics. They are pressurized to an atmospheric level that is predetermined (and prescribed) by a patient’s physician. Patients breathe 100% oxygen during the entire therapeutic session, a length of time that is factored into the prescription.

Because patients are separated from clinicians during the HBOT treatment in this type of monoplace chamber, it can become problematic if the patient experiences any sort of health event mid-therapy. A depressurization process must take place before the patient can exit the chamber—which takes time. Plus, if a patient happens to be undergoing a seizure, that depressurization cannot commence until the person stops seizing.

While seizure occurrence is rare during a medical HBOT treatment, it can happen—and is more likely in patients who have pre-existing seizure disorders or a history of low blood sugar. A related complication is there’s no way for clinicians to medically assess what’s happening at that very moment and implement medical treatment.

A third disadvantage is that monoplace HBOT chambers hold a heightened risk for fire. It’s crucial that no electronics are allowed in the monoplace chambers to prevent this risk.

Multiplace HBOT chambers treat multiple individuals at the same time. These chambers are commonly used in the diving industry—for example, in commercial diving for underwater construction and maintenance. However, advancements in HBOT science have led to other medical uses around the world.

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At Aviv you will find multiplace HBOT chambers that are more like suites;  a little like flying business class, they are spacious, comfortable, and private.  Created in partnership with Fink Engineering, the world’s premier provider of hyperbaric suites, our HBOT chambers are the most technologically advanced, and most importantly,  your safety is guaranteed.

In multiplace chambers, individuals are also breathing 100% oxygen in a highly pressurized environment. But, each person has their own breathing apparatus. One distinct advantage of multiple chambers is the ability to have a medical professional in the chamber while individuals are undergoing their HBOT treatment—unlike the monoplace chamber’s limitations.

Ultimately, safety is of utmost importance in HBOT treatment. Most medical HBOT facilities that are run through a hospital or clinic are operating with the proper certifications, whether using monoplace or multiplace chambers. At Aviv Clinics, all physicians, nurses, and hyperbaric technologists undergo in-depth training and have reached certification status. However, it’s important to keep in mind not all facilities meet these stringent safety standards.

Advancements in HBOT Science

Modern hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocols go beyond addressing a specific condition. The science, technology, and unique protocols of the Aviv Medical Program—and the design of the clinic’s multiplace HBOT chambers—work proactively to maximize overall health. In other words, the Aviv Clinics HBOT chambers offer more than just oxygen therapy.

The foundational aspects of HBOT treatment are still in play: The multiplace chamber is pressurized to the optimal level, which takes about 10 minutes. Once the target pressure is reached, individuals begin breathing 100% oxygen for a period of 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, masks are removed for five minutes. Total treatment time of two hours.

This on/off alternating protocol of oxygen fluctuation tricks the body into thinking it is in low-oxygen distress. The body’s natural reaction to the rapid decline in oxygen levels is the creation of new stem cells. It also triggers something called hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), which plays a role in angiogenesis, or the creation of new blood vessels.

Both are instrumental in healing and rejuvenating various parts of the body and brain, in cases such as:

HBOT and the Aviv Medical Program protocols also contribute to enhanced physical performance, cognitive performance, and overall vitality and quality of life.

The Bottom Line

If you’re considering HBOT to progress your health, it’s imperative to know the advantages and potential limitations of the different types of HBOT chambers—and which chamber will best help you reach your goals.

Contact us if you have any questions about HBOT treatments or would like to explore how the Aviv Medical Program can benefit you or a loved one.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – An Innovative Method to Optimize Athletic Performance

Athletes are always looking for their next “win,” whether they are at the professional level or a weekend warrior. But, in doing so, they also encounter several challenges. Fatigue and injuries can seriously damage one’s competitive edge. In some cases, an injury or recurring injury forces athletes to abandon their sport completely.

In recent years, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been proven as an effective way to address injuries, aid in recovery, and improve athletic output—both mentally and physically. Even if you’re an amateur athlete who is just passionate about your sport of choice, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a viable way to take performance to the next level.

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How hyperbaric oxygen therapy optimizes athletic performance

Research results speak volumes about hyperbaric oxygen therapy’s transformative impact on athletic performance.
Studies have shown positive benefits of HBOT:

  • Contributes to faster healing, post-injury
  • Expedites recovery from non-injury soreness
  • Reduces incidence of injury occurrence or reoccurrence
  • Breaks up the cycle of inflammation athletes often experience
  • Heightens aerobic stamina, including lung capacity and cardiovascular endurance

Hyperbaric chamber benefits don’t stop there.

Cognitive performance, which is a foundational focus of the Aviv Medical Program, plays a crucial role in athleticism. Intensity, focus, and attention support the physical fundamentals of a sport.

Athletes who go through the Aviv Medical Program undergo both physical and cognitive training.

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Two athletes who previously completed the program have spoken openly about the benefits they realized.

Alon Day, a three-time European NASCAR champion, also benefited from the program. Unlike other sports, race car driving is about intense, small motor movements. Race car drivers require significant grip strength to control the steering wheel at high speeds. Small movements of the hand and foot can make the difference between finishing first or crashing. The environment also takes a physical toll, as drivers wear a fireproof suit with no air conditioning, which can lead to dehydration.

Racing requires intense cognitive focus for an extended period. This is one area where Day made significant strides. After completing the Aviv Medical Program, he achieved approximately 15% improvement in cognitive function.

“There is nothing like it in the world. You cannot go to the gym and get the same results. When I came over there every morning, I felt like I was a bionic man, being in the hyperbaric chamber at the cutting edge of medicine. At the end of the hyperbaric treatment, when the season started, I was at my best. I won the championship, and I broke every record. In my opinion, this treatment is for whoever needs to be on top of their game.”

Peter Paltchik is a Judo champion who was not just looking to maximize his physical capacity, but also his cognitive fortitude. Paltchik describes the program as his “ace card” to success:

“To be an Olympic medalist, every second counts. You must be able to analyze, to react, to think very quickly. This is the difference between winning and losing. In order to be the most complete athlete and the best fighter I can, I must have the best cognitive capabilities such as handling extreme levels of stress, concentration, making decisions in real time. After I joined the program, I felt the improvements in my mind and body. I was sharper, more focused in fights, and I was able to make quicker decisions.”

As hyperbaric oxygen becomes a popular method for enhancing athletic performance, understanding the different types of chambers and finding the best program becomes key.

Which hyperbaric chambers benefit athletes the most?

While all hyperbaric chambers have the same goal—to deliver 100% oxygen in a high-pressure environment—different types of chambers work in different ways.

Monoplace chambers administer oxygen to one person at a time. The chamber’s structure reflects a tube or cylinder in which individuals lie in a horizontal position.

Soft-side monoplace chambers are more “portable” than the rigid cylinder HBOT chambers made of glass or plastic. But, it also cannot reach the level of pressurization to produce high-level results.

Neither of these chambers allow for the one key ingredient needed to achieve groundbreaking results: oxygen fluctuation.

Multiplace chambers or “suites”, such as the one at the Aviv Clinics facility in Dubai, utilize the science behind oxygen fluctuations in a pressurized environment. It is this mechanism that produces the underlying elements of enhanced athletic performance, including:

  • New stem cells. Stem cells can exist as any cell type in the human body. As it relates to physical performance, stem cell production supports the heart, lungs, and muscles. Lungs breathe deeper and more efficiently, allowing athletes to perform at a higher level for longer periods without becoming winded. The heart is able to pump out more oxygenated blood to other organs and muscles, and muscle growth occurs at a faster pace.
  • Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). HIF plays a role in angiogenesis, or the creation of new blood vessels. With more routes for blood to travel throughout the body—to the heart, lungs, muscle tissue—more oxygen is also getting to those areas. This prevents fatigue and muscle soreness. HIF also is instrumental in creating new red blood cells, ensuring that maximum oxygen flow goes to the organs.
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is a protein that gets released during HBOT treatments and “signals” blood vessel formation. Again, the more blood that can flow to key areas of the body, the higher one’s athletic capacity.

How can athletes gain the greatest competitive advantage?

With Paltchik and Day—and any athlete who is looking to reap the benefits of a hyperbaric chamber—it’s not just about the oxygen, or even the oxygen fluctuations. For athletes to reach their full potential, they need to incorporate additional components.

Paltchik and Day both experienced brain-based enhancements thanks to the cognitive training included in the Aviv Medical Program. Nutrition is another area athletes need to be cognizant of, especially when pushing their bodies to maximum output.

A comprehensive program also considers athletes’ unique goals, whether they’re coming off their sports season and are looking to facilitate recovery or want to start a new season in peak physical condition. And, athletes of all ages can benefit. One Aviv Clinics client was an 80-year-old Ironman competitor who achieved both measurable clinical improvements, as well as real-life gains in his race performances by shaving 24 minutes from his triathlon time.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are a professional athlete, or simply want to advance your athletic capabilities to its best potential, HBOT can help. To truly transform your game, the comprehensive approach of the Aviv Medical Program is second to none in achieving peak performance.

Contact us to learn more about how the Aviv Medical Program can help you achieve your goals.