TUESDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers in Israel report that they harnessed the same type of therapy that helps scuba divers recover from the bends to spur recovery in stroke survivors.
The treatment, known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, involves closing the patient in a room with higher-than-normal air pressure, then delivering oxygen to rejuvenate damaged brain cells, called neurons. Oxygen levels in the body are increased tenfold with this therapy, the researchers said.
The 59 patients in the study showed differing levels of recovery, but some improvements were dramatic.
One 61-year-old woman who could not bathe, dress or climb stairs without help after suffering a stroke a year earlier was able to not only bathe and dress on her own, but also was able to shop and cook independently, the researchers said.
Another participant, this one a 62-year-old woman who had had a stroke 14 months earlier, regained lost language and reading skills and was able to walk, climb stairs and eat on her own. Before the stroke, she needed help with all of these activities.
Stroke from either a clot or a bleed in the brain can result in problems with mobility, loss of reading and speaking ability, and the inability to complete some of the most basic tasks of daily life, such as bathing, dressing and walking.
It is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States.
Physical, speech and occupational therapy can help with recovery in the early weeks and months after a stroke, but many patients still don't fully recover their abilities.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is currently approved in the United States for decompression sickness (the bends), wound healing, carbon monoxide poisoning, skin grafts and thermal burns, among other applications, said the study's author, Dr. Shai Efrati, a faculty member at Tel Aviv's Sackler School of Medicine.
All rights reserved