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Global breakthrough study in Israel in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Oxygen therapy was successfully employed to treat PTSD symptoms in IDF veterans with brain injury. Half were no longer deemed to have PTSD.

 Oxygen therapy was successfully employed to treat PTSD symptoms in IDF veterans with brain injury. Half were no longer deemed to have PTSD.
Oxygen therapy was successfully employed to treat PTSD symptoms in IDF veterans with brain injury. Half were no longer deemed to have PTSD.

Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment can dramatically alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder. In a study on Israel Defense Force combat veterans, half of them made such good progress they were no longer deemed to have PTSD.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), PTSD affects about 4% of the global population and 30% of combat soldiers.

For the first time in years, the majority of whom had severe PTSD, were able to put the horrors behind them and look forward to a brighter future.

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The study led by Prof. Shai Efrati from Tel Aviv University was published in the journal PlosOne on Tuesday.

The study included 35 combat veterans who suffered from PTSD, including hyper-arousal, avoidance, and depression, and were resistant to both psychiatric medications and psychotherapy.

According to Dr. Keren Doenyas-Barak, using new protocols of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), veterans were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one underwent treatment using new protocols of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The other served as a control group. All PTSD symptoms improved following a 60-treatment regimen.

Dr. Doenyas-Barak added: “Moreover, both functional and structural improvement was observed in the non-healing brain wounds that characterize PTSD.”

The researchers believe that in most of them, improvements will be preserved for years after the completion of the treatment.

Hyperbaric medicine refers to therapies performed in a pressurized chamber where the atmospheric pressure is greater than that at sea level and the air is more oxygenated.

(credit – The Shamir Medical Center): Clinical example of functional brain imaging by fMRI.  The reduced brain activity in the frontal lobes of the brain (responsible among others for emotional regulation and executive functions) and in hippocampus (responsible for memories functions) is improved after Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).

HBOT is a well-tolerated method of treatment that is already being utilized to treat a variety of medical disorders. Recent evidence suggests that specialized hyperbaric protocols can increase the brain’s oxygen delivery, hence boosting the formation of new blood vessels and neurons.

HBOT therapies must be evaluated and monitored by trained physicians. Additionally, for medical indications, it should be administered in a recognized chamber with sufficient quality assurance, following the same treatment protocols that have been investigated.

“We now understand that treatment-resistant PTSD is caused by a biological damage in brain tissues that impedes psychological and psychiatric treatment,” Prof. Shai Efrati added.

“We can now trigger processes that heal damaged brain tissue using the new HBOT regimens. The treatment stimulates stem cell reactivation and proliferation, as well as the formation of new blood vessels and enhanced brain activity, thereby restoring the functionality of the injured tissues. Our research sets the path for a more complete understanding of the mind-body link.”

“Our findings suggest that exposure to extreme emotional trauma can result in organic brain damage,” Prof. Efrati explains. “Additionally, we demonstrate for the first time that direct biological therapy of brain tissues can be used to assist patients with PTSD. Additionally, our findings may be critical for diagnosis.

“To yet, no reliable diagnostic procedure has been devised, and diagnosis of PTSD is still based on subjective personal testimonies – resulting in numerous disputes between suffering veterans and the authorities charged with their care. Consider a patient who presents to the emergency room complaining of chest problems. The pain could be from a panic attack or a heart attack, and without objective EKG and blood tests, doctors could miss a heart attack. We are currently conducting ongoing research to determine the molecular fingerprint of PTSD, which will allow for the creation of novel objective diagnostic methods,” said Prof. Efrati



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