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How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is applied in Military Medicine

In their active years, most servicemen suffer from various forms of brain injuries that impact them negatively during both their active and veteran years. Some of the most common diagnoses include mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries and resulting PTSD include blasts, burns, crushes, and exposure to various chemical agents. Most of the resulting brain injuries have dire consequences with minimal treatment options. This leaves those affected in compromised situations and most end up engaging in self harm which includes suicide. 

Mechanism of Action

Over the years, HBOT has been used widely as both primary and alternative treatment in military medicine. It is used alongside other forms of treatment e.g. antibiotics as it has commendable efficacy. HBOT aids in the physical healing of injuries of the brain tissue. This has the effect of reversing mechanical damage, especially around the gray and white matter of the brain. Those affected get to benefit from improved synaptic functioning as well as boosted nerve cell functioning. The introduction of increased tissue oxygenation leads to reversed action of chronic tissue pathology since the two most crucial parts of the brain are addressed. HBOT also leads to reduced edema as the oxygenated tissues can regain their ability to control both intracellular and extracellular fluids. Most licensed military medical professionals handling both active and veteran communities recommend it since it is non-invasive and quite cost-efficient. HBOT is preferred to anti-depressants which have proven to be ineffective over time. Most veterans still fall victim to suicide even when they are on anti-depressants. For those still serving, administration of HBOT is easier since it can be done at the site. 

High-pressure oxygen has the effect of improving brain tissue repair and associated cognitive functions that are affected. HBOT also improves the immunity of the relatively vulnerable injured brain tissues. Advanced bioactivity and wound repair also lead to improved blood flow around the brain. Blood vessel density increases meaning that more blood could reach the impaired parts of the brain. With time, the memory that is affected greatly also improves. In the long run, the quality of life improves and veterans as well as those actively serving can live more fulfilling lives. Those affected by traumatic brain injuries can sleep better, and experience less headaches and dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and associated aggression. With the numerous benefits those affected derive from HBOT, they can live better with their loved ones. 

References

Biggs, A. T., Littlejohn, L. F., & Dainer, H. M. (2021). Alternative uses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in military medicine: Current positions and Future Directions. Military Medicine, 187(1–2), 72–79. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usab022  

Harch, P. G. (2022). Systematic review and dosage analysis: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy efficacy in mild traumatic brain injury persistent post-concussion syndrome. Frontiers in Neurology, 13(2), 41–46. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2022.815056  

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