Management of chronic strokes remains a challenge within our current medical system, yet the intervention of hyperbaric oxygen therapy has consistently been shown to improve stroke recovery, even years after the brain insult.

This study followed 4 patients (from 14 months to 15 years post stroke) who were given a typical 8 week hyperbaric protocol consisting of 40 individual sessions (at an effective dosage of 1.8 ATA) and evaluated the outcome measures through functional MRI imaging (fMRI). Note, fMRI is a non invasive, robust and reliable technique to assess and monitor neuronal functional change.

The results were very impressive and should give encouragement for this protocol to be more widely used within the stroke recovery community. Here is a summary of all 4 patients along with the details regarding their recovery:

60 year old male (14 month old stroke) with severe, non-fluent aphasia, associated with retained comprehension, dyslexia and dysgraphia, a right upper limb spastic paralysis and a right lower limb paresis, and post-stroke depression.

Aphasia and the ability to speak improved noticeably, helping to regain some social life. Accordingly, the negative attitude was replaced by positivity, good mood and interest. Right lower limb paresis improved with better gait and stance. However, the right hand paralysis did not improve, except for a decrease in spasticity

68 year old male (5 year old stroke) with moderate signs of dysarthria (he sounded clumsy in reading aloud short passages), an unsteady, wide-base gait and dysphagia

A marked clinical improvement in the language fluency, such that he was able to read aloud a written text, without a hitch. Ataxia and dysphagia improved as well

48 year old male (15 year old stroke) with recurrent seizures, mild signs of dysarthria, upper left limb paralysis, lower left limb paresis, lack of coordination in the right limbs, severe in the lower right extremity and to a lesser extent in the upper right extremity

He dramatically improved his speech fluency. The left lower limb paresis improved together with an increase in walking autonomy, but he was still unable to flex and extend the left foot rhythmically. Also the right limbs coordination improved. On the contrary, the left upper limb paralysis did not change at all.

34 year old male (17 month old stroke) with global non fluent aphasia with some deficits in the reading comprehension, a complete spastic hemiplegia of the right upper limb with spastic hypertonia, a partial paresis of the right inferior limb (but he was able to walk with some walking aids) and right hemilateral hypoaesthesia

Good improvement in the common everyday acts of his life, as speaking and understanding and also in walking, but not in his upper limb paralysis

Once again, it is important to keep in mind that fMRI imagining confirms long-term these benefits and can play a future role in determining hyperbaric-based protocols for chronic stroke sufferers <view study

Functional MRI (fMRI) Evaluation of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Efficacy in Chronic Cerebral Stroke: A Small Retrospective Consecutive Case Series – PubMed (nih.gov)

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