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Treating Motor Dysfunctions Post-Stroke Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Various patients experience different post-stroke symptoms, which have other impacts on their quality of life. Ischemic stroke is the more prevalent form of stroke; hemorrhagic stroke contributes to lesser cases. Some of the most common motor dysfunctions revolve around sleep quality, delayed or lost speech, and difficulties in mobility and balance. The most affected parts of the brain are those that control memory, endurance, sleep, attention, and coordination. The patients experience brain fog as a result of reduced concentration. Most people are forced to resort to such forms of treatment as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, cognitive rehabilitation therapy, mental imagery (EMI), and medications. Most of these forms of treatment and rehabilitation have substantial cost implications; some have low efficacy as well.  HBOT is used widely as adjunctive therapy since it improves the effectiveness of other forms of treatments alongside providing its own set of benefits. HBOT is recommended since, unlike functional therapy and rehabilitation programs, it addresses the dysfunctions by contributing to the restoration and metabolic recovery of the affected cerebral tissues. 

Mechanism of Action

Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) has the impact of boosting cerebral hypoxia. The result of this is increased partial pressure of blood oxygen in the cerebral vessels. Post-stroke patients with various motor dysfunctions benefit significantly from the increased cerebral tissue oxygenation. The damaged neurons responsible for transmitting signals that control sleep patterns, balance, concentration, and memory are restored. Areas of the brain controlling sleep, balance, coordination, and memory that were initially compromised by stroke are healed as well. Most of the damage to these parts of the brain results from brain edema, which compresses them, thus compromising their function. HBOT addresses the brain edema as a result of the stroke. With the brain operating optimally, there is the resumption of a specific reticular upward activation system. Sleep structure and patterns, balance, attention, and memory can be controlled with any form of disruption. 

By diminishing inflammation that affects blood vessels in the brain, HBOT ensures that there is stability with respect to the neuropathic factors that disrupt sleep. HBOT reduces individuals’ dependency and abuse of various forms of drugs and stimulants to induce sleep, concentration, or recalling of specific details. By prompting neuroplasticity, HBOT ensures that the generation of new brain cells around the affected parts is enabled. The neuroplasticity resultantly improves the neurological defects that cause motor dysfunction. Also, with the introduction of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO), neural fibers that had been injured but are still functional are healed through maturation and myelination. HBOT improves the quality of life that those affected by stroke live; the proportional costs associated with HBOT compared to other forms of treatment also make it easier for them to follow through with the latter. 


Efrati, S., Fishlev, G., Bechor, Y., Volkov, O., Bergan, J., Kliakhandler, K., Kamiager, I., Gal, N., Friedman, M., Ben‐Jacob, E., & Golan, H. M. (2013). Hyperbaric oxygen induces late neuroplasticity in post stroke patients - randomized, prospective trial. PLOS ONE, 8(1), e53716.

Hadanny, A., Rittblat, M., Bitterman, M., May-Raz, I., Suzin, G., Boussi-Gross, R., Zemel, Y., Bechor, Y., Catalogna, M., & Efrati, S. (2020). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves neurocognitive functions of post-stroke patients – a retrospective analysis. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 38(1), 93–107.

International, E. M. (2024). Retracted: Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on Sleep Quality, Drug Dosage, and Nerve Function in Patients with Sleep Disorders after Ischemic Cerebral Stroke. Emergency Medicine International, 2024, 1.





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