Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as a Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

By Sarah Galbraith Laucks, OxyLife Hyperbarics

HHyperbaric oxygen therapy(1), also known as HBOT or HBO therapy, is a treatment procedure that takes place inside an air sealed, transparent chamber filled with 100% pure oxygen in an increased atmospheric pressure. The process aids the body to absorb oxygen in a greater amount and transports it to the blood cells, blood plasma, cerebral-spinal fluid and other body fluids. Sufficient oxygen content in the affected tissues has been shown in research to promote healing and provide relief.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Physiological Benefits

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been shown to convey the following physiological benefits(2). These benefits are supported by evidence-based research.

  • Improve energy levels and tissue function
  • Regenerate tissue
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce pain (particularly inflammatory-related pain disorders)
  • Improve and enhance immune functioning
  • Protect the body

Approved and Off-Label Uses

Following is the list for all current FDA-approved uses(3) of hyperbaric oxygen therapy:

  • Air embolism
  • Gas embolism
  • Acute traumatic ischemia
  • Burns
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Exceptional blood loss
  • Decompression sickness
  • Gas gangrene
  • Necrotizing infections
  • Severe anemia
  • Skin grafts and flaps
  • Wound healing

All other uses of HBOT are what are known as "off-label" uses(3) and have not been approved by the FDA. While other uses for HBOT are currently off-label, there is ongoing scientific research and clinical case review to determine if the treatment should receive FDA approval for additional uses. As physiological benefits (those supported by evidence-based research) are increasingly known, individuals are able to review the possible benefits with their treating physicians to determine if off-label use of a treatment should be considered for their own case.

Approved Uses for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury: Selected Studies

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy shows encouraging promise for a variety of conditions, including spinal cord injury.(4)

1. Effective Rehab Using Stem Cell Transplantation Combined with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

HBOT is a promising therapy for spinal cord injuries. This study showed that the combination of transplanted Mesenchymal Stem cells (MSCs) and HBOT treatment improved the recovery of lost hind limbs function in spinal cord-injured rats.

Study: Effect of mesenchymal stem cells transplantation combining with hyperbaric oxygen therapy on rehabilitation of rat spinal cord injury.
Read on Pub Med: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26194832/

2. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy May Alleviate Long-Term Spinal Cord Damage

Long-term disabilities from spinal cord injuries are linked with the extent of secondary injury from the inflammation that immediately follows the initial injury. Inflammation is a natural body response, but it limits the amount of blood and oxygen getting to the area, and thus poses greater problem. Hyperbaric oxygen has been used as an off-label treatment for spinal cord injuries for many years now, with many positive reports by both patients and treating physicians. This study showed that applying hyperbaric therapy may reduce secondary damage by reducing the inflammatory factors produced by the body. This gives good rationale for using HBOT following spinal cord injuries, not only to reduce secondary damage due to inflammation, but for also getting extra oxygen into the area and promote further repair, while not losing functional capacity.

Study: Hyperbaric oxygen alleviates experimental (spinal cord) injury by downregulating HMGB1/NF-κB expression.
Read on Pub Med: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24335635

3. Hyperbaric Oxygen Increases New Blood Vessels Towards Traumatic Tissue

Following spinal cord injuries, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been shown to produce a positive effect on healing, but it still remains unclear of the main mechanisms of action. This study followed spinal cord injuries treated with HBOT and demonstrated that this group had higher and longer expressions of VEGF (Vascular endothelial growth factor), which is responsible for the growth of new blood vessels. This follows many other studies and citations, particularly with non-healing wounds, where HBOT facilitates the body to produce more blood vessels to damaged tissue, for long-term benefits.

Study: Hyperbaric oxygen intervention on expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and vascular endothelial growth factor in spinal cord injury models in rats.
Read on Pub Med: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24157153 

How to Access HBOT and Frequently Asked Questions

Respiro 270 Hyperbaric Chamber

There are multiple ways that individuals can access HBOT. Both mild and high-pressure chambers are available for purchase. Financing and rental programs exist. Many clinics are available that offer HBOT services for both approved and off-label uses. Each individual should review HBOT as a potential treatment with their physician.

You and your healthcare professionals may have additional questions about HBOT including:

  • Difference between mild and high pressure HBOT, also known as mHBOT and HBOT
  • Additional off-label conditions for which HBOT is used
  • Supporting research studies
  • Will insurance will cover treatments
  • Risks and safety information

Additional resources, links to research studies, and answers to frequently asked questions are available at the following websites:


About OxyLife Hyperbarics

At OxyLife Hyperbarics we are dedicated to redefining health and wellness through the use of the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. We are passionate about supporting our customers on their healing journeys! We sell only OxyHealth Hyperbaric chambers. These portable chambers are engineered to remain cost-effective, comfortable to operate and convenient while providing users with the option to easily self-treat with cutting-edge hyperbaric technology. With five different models to suit different levels of need and affordability. Financing and rental programs available. Each chamber comes with a 5-year warranty. Visit us online at www.oxylifehyperbarics.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @oxylifehyperbarics.

About the Author

Sarah Galbraith Laucks is an education and content specialist for the disability, health and wellness communities. She posts about trends in these communities on Facebook @sarah.laucks. Her particular interest is in emerging therapies and empowering end-users to access credible information about all available therapy options. Most recently she served as Director of Education and Events for Abilities Expo for 10+ years, where she directed the content for more than 60 shows.

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, and/or advice of a qualified licensed professional. It offers general information and in no way should anyone consider that this article represents the practice of medicine. The authors and sources for this article assume no responsibility for how this information is used. No statements or implied treatments within this article have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. It is important that you do not reduce, change, or discontinue any medication or treatment without first consulting your doctor. Please consult your doctor before beginning any new program of treatment.

1) https://www.ihausa.org
2) http://hyperbaricexperts.com/benefits/physiological-benefits/
3) http://hyperbaricexperts.com/faq/
4) http://hyperbaricexperts.com/latest-research/?id=25


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