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Oxygen chamber can boost brain repair
Date:1/23/2013

Stroke, traumatic injury, and metabolic disorder are major causes of brain damage and permanent disabilities, including motor dysfunction, psychological disorders, memory loss, and more. Current therapy and rehab programs aim to help patients heal, but they often have limited success.

Now Dr. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine has found a way to restore a significant amount of neurological function in brain tissue thought to be chronically damaged even years after initial injury. Theorizing that high levels of oxygen could reinvigorate dormant neurons, Dr. Efrati and his fellow researchers, including Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU's School of Physics and Astronomy and the Segol School of Neuroscience, recruited post-stroke patients for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) sessions in high pressure chambers that contain oxygen-rich air which increases oxygen levels in the body tenfold.

Analysis of brain imaging showed significantly increased neuronal activity after a two-month period of HBOT treatment compared to control periods of non-treatment, reported Dr. Efrati in PLoS ONE. Patients experienced improvements such as a reversal of paralysis, increased sensation, and renewed use of language. These changes can make a world of difference in daily life, helping patients recover their independence and complete tasks such as bathing, cooking, climbing stairs, or reading a book.

Oxygen breathes new life into neurons

According to Dr. Efrati, there are several degrees of brain injury. Neurons impacted by metabolic dysfunction have the energy to stay alive, but not enough to fire electric signals, he explains. HBOT aims to increase the supply of energy to these cells.

The brain consumes 20 percent of the body's oxygen, but that is only enough oxygen to operate five to ten percent of neurons at any one time. The regeneration process requires much more energy. The tenfold increase in
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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