What are the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for stroke patients?
Explore the facts about strokes and how the power of oxygen can help stroke victims heal
With someone in the United States having a stroke every 40 seconds and stroke being a leading cause of serious long-term disability, it’s extremely valuable to learn more about strokes, including risk factors and signs that someone is having a stroke, to keep yourself and those you love as healthy as possible. 
Join us to learn more about strokes and how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can support stroke victims in their healing journeys.
What is a stroke?
Essentially the brain’s equivalent of a heart attack, a stroke occurs when the blood flow to a portion of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing the brain from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to properly function. If your brain is deprived of blood or oxygen for just a few minutes, your brain cells will begin to die which can cause loss of brain function. [2,3,4]
Strokes are life threatening emergencies and require immediate medical attention to prevent long-term, permanent damage or death. 
What are the different types of strokes?
There are three main types of stroke that are categorized based on how they are caused:
- Ischemic stroke, the most common type, occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off due to a blockage or narrowing in a major blood vessel in the brain. It could be blocked by a blood clot or plaque buildup. [2,3,4]
- Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing bleeding in or around the brain. It can result from many blood vessel-related conditions such as unmanaged high blood pressure or trauma like a car accident. [2,3,4]
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a mini stroke, is caused by the same factors as an ischemic stroke, but it is only a temporary period of symptoms similar to a stroke that can last as little as five minutes. Immediate medical attention is still required to determine if it’s a stroke or TIA and follow-up medical intervention may be required. 
What are the risk factors of a stroke?
Anybody of any age can have a stroke, but they are more common to occur for people over age 65, and there are certain factors that increase the risk of a stroke such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Substance use disorder
What are the symptoms of a stroke?
Strokes can happen suddenly, and each person’s symptoms can greatly vary depending on the area of the brain that is being affected, but the most common signs and symptoms are: [2,3,4]
- Difficulty speaking or comprehending what other people are saying
- Numbness or inability to move in the face, arms, or legs
- Blurred or darkened vision in one or both eyes
- Severe headache
- Difficulty walking 
To recognize the warning signs of a stroke, try to think FAST:
- Face: Ask the person to smile and check for drooping in their face.
- Arm: Ask the person to raise their arms and check for one dropping down.
- Speech: Ask the person to speak and listen for slurred or difficult speech.
- Time: Call 911 immediately and make note of the time the symptoms started to tell medical personnel. 
What are the potential long-term complications of a stroke?
Depending on the area of the brain affected and the amount of time that blow flow is restricted from the brain, a stroke can cause temporary or permanent disabilities. 
The most common complications of a stroke include:
- Paralysis on one side of the body
- Loss of control of certain muscles
- Difficulty talking, swallowing, or eating
- Struggles with understanding speech, reading, or writing
- Memory loss or difficulty thinking
- Emotional problems, including the potential to develop depression
- Pain or numbness in parts of the body affected by the stroke
- Changes in behavior or demeanor 
How are strokes treated?
The emergency treatment provided to stroke victims differs depending on if they suffered an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, but can include a variety of medications, procedures, or surgeries to quickly restore blood flow to the brain or control bleeding. 
Once emergency treatment has been completed and the patient has been stabilized, many stroke victims must seek rehabilitative treatments such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to fully recover to the best of their body’s ability. 
How can hyperbaric oxygen therapy help with recovery after a stroke?
Since the treatment immerses the body in an atmosphere of 100% pure oxygen, studies have been conducted on the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in helping stroke patients heal by allowing oxygen to reach damaged cells such as those injured by stroke.
One study evaluated the effects of HBOT on overall cognitive function for patients recovering from a stroke within at least six months after the initial stroke event. The study found that after undergoing an HBOT protocol of 40-60 sessions with each session lasting 90 minutes at 2 ATA with five minute air brakes every 20 minutes, patients exhibited significant improvements in all cognitive domains. 
Interested in learning more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy for stroke patients?
Please visit our research library to view studies on the topic under ‘Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other Neurological disorders.’
Ready to tap into the power of HBOT for your stroke recovery?
At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, our caring, experienced team is proud to treat patients for a variety of insurance-approved and off-label medical conditions, including stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI), in our state of the art Sechrist 3600 monoplace hyperbaric chambers.
Our team of hyperbaric specialists are ready to answer any questions you may have before your treatments! We welcome you to contact us today.
4: Johns Hopkins Medicine | Stroke
5: National Institutes of Health (NIH) | Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves neurocognitive functions of post-stroke patients – a retrospective analysis
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