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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Helps Brain Function in TAU Study
Study results show elevated blood flow and improved oxygenation in the brain of patients suffering from cognitive impairment. (Courtesy)

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Helps Brain Function in TAU Study

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have improved cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Using a specific protocol of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), cerebral blood flow (CBF) improved/increased in elderly patients, alleviating vascular dysfunction and amyloid burden, according to the findings of a new study. Hyperbaric medicine is a form of therapy that requires patients to be kept in special chambers in which the atmospheric pressure is much higher than that normally experienced at sea level. In addition, they breathe air composed of 100% oxygen. In recent years, scientific evidence has shown that hyperbaric therapy is capable of inducing repair of damage brain tissue and renewed growth of blood vessels and nerve cells in the brain.

The study, published in the journal Aging, was conducted under the leadership of a team of investigators from Tel Aviv University: Prof. Shai Efrati, Prof. Uri Ashery, Dr. Ronit Shapira, Dr. Pablo Blinder and Dr. Amir Hadanny of the Sagol School of Neuroscience and the faculties of Life Sciences and Medicine at the Tel Aviv University as well as from the Shamir Medical Center.

The first stage of the study was carried out on an animal model, and proved that a certain therapeutic protocol brings about an improvement in vascular function and the creation of new blood vessels. It also prevents the deposit of new amyloid plaques on the brain cells and leads to the removal of existing amyloid plaque deposits. Deposits of such proteins in the brain are connected with severe degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The next stage studied people above the age of 65 with cognitive decline, with an emphasis on memory loss – a stage preceding Alzheimer’s and dementia. The therapy included a series of 60 session of HBOT in pressure chambers over a period of 90 days. The hyperbaric treatment protocol led to increased blood flow in the range of 16%-23%; significant improved in memory by 16.5% on average; significant improvement in attention and information processing speed.

“By treating the root problem that causes cognitive deterioration with age, we are in fact mapping out the way to prevention. It is likely that hyperbaric medicine can potentially provide the opportunity for living with good brain function without relating to chronological age. The idea is to commence therapy before the onset of clinical symptoms of dementia and before deterioration and loss of extensive brain tissue,” Efrati said.

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