In the past, medical science doubted that brain cells had the capacity to regenerate or even recover after a major insult or injury such as a stroke. This concept is no longer felt to be correct. In many instances, the circulation to an area of the brain becomes compromised, and brain tissue becomes depleted of oxygen. In a smaller central area of the stroke, brain cells die and are surrounded by a much larger area where brain cells do not function normally but are still viable and may actually recover or even return to normal. It is felt that hyperbaric oxygen has the capacity of improving brain cell function in these areas.
Similarly, hyperbaric oxygen is being used to treat children with a variety of traumatic brain injuries such as cerebral palsy. Hyperbaric oxygen is also being used to treat children diagnosed with autism.
Doctors are combining oral and intravenous chelating therapy with hyperbaric oxygen to treat this medical condition.
Adults suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease have also received improvement from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen has also been used in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who suffer from problems with memory and thinking, with the so-called "lupus fog."
Recent studies have suggested that a common link among children with autism is chronic inflammation of areas of the brain and intestinal tract. The anti-inflammatory effects of hyperbaric oxygen make it an attractive treatment modality for autism.
Recent studies in cardiovascular literature suggest that patients undergoing open heart surgery have better brain function if they receive hyperbaric oxygen prior to surgery.