Wake up stroke victims’ brains with pure oxygen?

A technology initially intended for diving accidents now offers interesting prospects for strokes. Affected patients may in the future be able to receive this treatment which can improve their ability to walk.

The Pasteur Hospital in Nice is exploring a new avenue of work synonymous with hope for stroke victims. The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Unit (UTOH) studies the effects of pure oxygen breathed into a hyperbaric chamber on a brain that has suffered a stroke. The technique used is none other than hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO).

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a method of administering oxygen at a pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. The hyperbaric chamber is a cylindrical enclosure made up of several chambers in which the treatment is administered. The layout of the room or module includes either seats for sitting down or stretcher slots »according to a comprehensive UTOH pamphlet (PDF 5 pages).

(Image credit: UTOH)

Initial results were communicated by Dr. Bernard Gamain of UTOH during the meeting organized in March 2017 by the French-speaking Society of Underwater and Hyperbaric Medicine and Physiology (Medsubhyp). According to the expert, several sessions in a hyperbaric chamber can improve walking in stroke patients.

This passion of the Pasteur hospital for hyperbaric oxygen therapy took root in 2013 when a patient from another hospital in Nice mentioned research on the subject from Israel, more precisely from the University of Tel Aviv. . The UTOH then carries out a bibliographical search and finds this research published in the journal Plos One.

“Their study conducted on 74 patients demonstrated for the first time, supported by PET imaging, that waking up the brain with oxygen between 6 months and 3 years after a stroke is possible. We, we wanted to confirm with more modest means, because unfortunately without imaging, that something was going on at the cerebral level. », explains Dr. Bernard Gamain.

You should know that following a stroke, the neurons present in a so-called « necrosis » zone die quickly due to lack of oxygen, but in the peripheral so-called « penumbra » zone, oxygen can contribute to the formation of new neurons, a process called neurogenesis.

The tests focused on 9 people who had suffered a stroke for more than 3 months. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions were then carried out on the volunteers at the rate of one per day for 5 days out of 7 for 8 weeks for a total of 40 sessions of 90 minutes. The results showed an increase of 70 meters in walking distance on average: 253 meters before HBO then 325 meters after the sessions.

This technology is not only the subject of research in France and Israel, but also in Switzerland and Canada. Parameters other than walking will soon be explored by the Nice team, such as prehension (grabbing objects with the hand) or even language.

Sources: Sciences et Avenir – ICI Radio Canada

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