Main Article Content
Introduction: The application of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for patients with both acute and chronic traumatic brain injury has been suggested for over five decades. In the past decade, the design and quality of studies were more detailed and thorough leading to an improved unerstanding of the uses of HBOT and the profiles of the patients who can benefit the most.
Objectives: Perform a comprehensive literature review of hyperbaric oxygen therapy application for the treatment of patients with both acute, subacute and chronic traumatic brain injury.
Methods: Extensive literature search from 1969 to April 2023 was performed on April 1st 2023 within the following databases: Cochrane Library, PubMed, Google Scholar, and Web of Science, including humans clinical data, in articles providing information on the type of treatment and clinical outcomes. Articles were first categorized into acute-subacute traumatic brain inury and chronic traumatic brain injury and further classified into low, medium or high level quality.
Results: There was high level evidence including nine randomized controlled trials, one meta-analysis and two prospective study evaluating the clinical effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries in the acute and subacute settings. Mortality was significantly reduced in all studies that used it as an endpoint, while favorable functional outcomes in survivors showed mixed results.
In chronic severe traumatic brain injury, there is low to moderate evidence including two uncontrolled prospective studies, two cohort studies and eight case reports suggesting improved outcomes.
In chronic mild traumatic brain injury, there is high level evidence including seven randomized controlled trials, and six prospective studies suggesting significant improvement in cognitive function, symptoms and quality of life.
Conclusions: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be recommended in acute moderate-severe traumatic brain injury patients (Type 2a recommendation, level A evidence). However, further studies are needed to both evaluate outcomes and to determine the optimal treatment protocols for the different types of injuries (Type 1 recommendation, level A evidence).
Hyperbaric oxygen threrapy should be recommended in chronic traumatic brain injury for a selected group of patients suffering from prolonged post-concussion syndrome who have clear evidence of metabolic dysfunctional brain regions as determined by neuroimaging (Type 2a recommendation, level B-R evidence). Patients should be properly evaluated by standardized cognitive tests and functional brain imaging (Type 1 recommendation, level B-R evidence).
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