There are two main types of stroke. An ischaemic stroke is where the blood supply to the brain is cut off by a blood clot. This accounts for 85% of all stroke cases. The other 15% are haemorrhagic strokes, where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts. When the blood supply to any area of the brain is cut off or damaged, vital oxygen and nutrients are prevented from reaching that area, leading to brain injury, disability and sometimes death.
Most people remember the initial signs and symptoms of stroke with the word FAST (Face-Arms-Speech-Time).
Face — the patient’s face has drooped on one side, or their mouth or eye has drooped, or they are unable to smile.
Arms — the patient cannot lift one or both arms because of weakness or numbness.
Speech — their speech has become garbled or slurred, or they are unable to speak at all.
Time — if you see any of the above signs/symptoms, it’s ‘time’ to call 999 immediately.
Those who survive a stroke are often left with long-lasting and sometimes widespread problems, including:
• paralysis and/or weakness down one side of the body, leading to major mobility issues
• problems with cognitive functions such as concentration, memory, spatial awareness and the ability to think and reason
• difficulties communicating, including speaking, writing, reading and understanding
• blurry, impaired or double vision
• bowel and/or bladder control issues.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) involves administering 100% oxygen at greater-than-normal atmospheric pressures inside a purpose-built chamber. The extra oxygen and heightened pressure combined increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, causing damaged brain cells and neurons to become flooded with it. It’s the same therapy that is routinely used to treat decompression sickness or “the bends” in scuba divers, but increasingly doctors are recommending it to spur recovery in stroke survivors.
The evidence that HBOT is effective for stroke recovery
In 1990, hyperbaric physician Dr R. A. Neubauer published a study in The Lancet, which was a particularly robust validation of the power of oxygen for stroke. Dr Neubauer demonstrated that his patient, a 60-year-old stroke victim, had recovered partial neurological function thanks to a year-long course of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Normobaric Oxygen Therapy. What is most notable about this case is that the improvement occurred 14 years after the patient’s severe stroke.
High-profile physician and author of The Oxygen Revolution Dr Paul Harch is widely considered the world’s leading authority on hyperbaric medicine, with experience spanning more than 30 years. He has presented abundant clinical evidence that HBOT can improve post-stroke symptoms. One of Dr Harch’s cases involved a 68-year-old male three-time stroke victim. After a course of HBOT, the patient experienced reduced dizziness, better balance and coordination, improved ability to walk without a cane or leg brace, and a marked improvement in his previously low mood.
However, the most convincing evidence for HBOT’s efficacy in stroke cases comes from a 2013 controlled clinical trial conducted by the Sagol Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Israel.
The trial involved 62 participants who had suffered an ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke 6-36 months previously. 30 patients received 5 90-minute sessions of HBOT a week for 2 months, and 32 patients in the control group received no therapy.
Patients who received HBOT showed elevated brain activity, significant neurological improvements and better quality of life following HBOT, while no improvements were seen in the control group during the same period. The researchers said:
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for stroke
At the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centre in Chelsea, London, stroke patients are looked after by the world-renowned Robert Pender, one of hyperbaric medicine’s earliest pioneers. Patients enter a state-of-the-art, single-person chamber and breathe in 100% oxygen at 2 times the normal atmospheric pressure. (This is more than most clinics offer.) Our hyperbaric sessions enable absorption of 10-15 times more oxygen than ordinary respiration will allow, giving stroke patients the very best chance of improving their neurological functioning and daily lives.
Before having any hyperbaric therapy, you will need to attend an initial consultation with hyperbaric expert Robert Pender, in order to go over your individual needs in depth and cover the nature and severity of your stroke. This will help hyperbaric expert Robert Pender, give an accurate estimate on how many sessions you will need for the best chance of recovery.
To know more about the substantive benefits of HBOT for stroke, contact us on 0203 823 1212 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or book a consultation with Robert Pender, a world-renowned hyperbaric expert, at our Chelsea-based clinic.