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The Many Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment which enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100 percent oxygen in a total body chamber where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. It is used to treat a wide range of neurologic conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, post-concussion symptoms, stroke and post-traumatic stress disorder. HBOT is also used to treat neurodegenerative diseases including autism, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, multi-system atrophy and birth injuries. Additionally, it has a long history as an adjunct for wound healing.

Oxygen is almost exclusively carried by red blood cells. However, during HBOT therapy, there is not only a substantial increase in the level of oxygen, but also in its distribution throughout the body in all fluids, including plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph and intracellular fluids. This produces important, long-term therapeutic benefits that encompass hyper-oxygenation of tissues, enhanced growth of new blood vessels, increased growth of wound healing cells called fibroblasts, enhanced white blood cell activity to remove debris and bacteria and enhanced metabolic activity of previously marginally functioning cells such as brain neurons.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, found that HBOT seems to help in restoring brain activity by offering a significant energy boost to brain cells. Although the brain receives oxygen through normal breathing, this may be insufficient for repairing brain damage. According to Dr. Shai Efrati, a physician involved in the study, HBOT offers approximately 10 times the normal oxygen amount, enabling brain cells to move into high gear. This rebuilds the brain connections and stimulates inactive neurons. These study findings, which pose a challenge to the dominant paradigm, show how it is possible to activate neuroplasticity for years and months after severe brain injury. It also illustrates how different aspects of the brain remain malleable and subject to lasting change throughout an individual’s lifetime, according to Tel Aviv University Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob.

Additional recent studies indicate that HBOT can enhance stem cell therapies in order to avoid joint replacements or with platelet-rich plasma therapy. While the number of treatments varies, generally two to four are required.

The Hughes Center for Functional Medicine maintains three fixed hyperbaric chambers for treatment of neurologic and neurodegenerative diseases and conditions, plus HBOT as an adjunct for wound care, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, non-healing fractures, post-polio syndrome, post-myocardial infarction, bladder neuromuscular dysfunction, chronic pain, recovery from muscle injuries, chronic decompression illnesses and sensorineural healing loss.

The Hughes Center for Functional Medicine is located at 800 Goodlette Rd., Ste. 270, in Naples. For more information, call 239-649-7400 or visit

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