Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has long been identified as a preliminary form of treatment for decompression sickness. However, in due time, several pieces of research and clinical trials have established its efficacy for a range of issues.
As of 2019, thirteen medical conditions can be treated with HBOT, as approved by the FDA. Some of the commonly identified issues include:
- Decompression sickness
- Radiation necrosis
- Air embolism
- Gas gangrene
- Diabetic ulcers
Similar to off-label medications that physicians recommend patients from time to time, HBOT treats quite a few neurological and chronic conditions.
One such instance is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Reportedly, multiple medical trials on both humans as well as animals have been carried out to conclude HBOT as an effective form of treatment for cases of TBI.
Regrettably, the difficulty to arrange sham pressures has led to zero placebo-controlled trails. As an obvious consequence, FDA directives for off label treatments have made insurance packages cutting down coverage.
In this post, we take a closer look at the use of HBOT for TBI and everything in between that makes up for the treatment.
HBOT and Skepticism
Research studies conclude how HBOT when administered properly can dramatically mitigate the arising symptoms of TBI. Researchers also opine how chronic conditions of TBI can be treated with an optimum dosage of HBOT.
Now, such conclusions clashes right against the skeptical belief that exists around serious head injuries. Many believe that any post-concussion symptoms, if not treated within six months can be permanent damage to the brain; untreatable and irreparable.
As such, HBOT has had limited exposure, only resting as the last resort for managing symptoms and for rehabilitation needs. The treatment, if considered as a primary measure could have far-reaching positive effects.
Not to mention, a big challenge in the form of established notions around a head injury, and the lack of insurance coverage for bearing the hyperbaric chamber cost.
Moreover, many fail to understand or acknowledge the pathophysiological side of TBI which is essential to support such claims of HBOT treating TBI conditions.
A Safe Therapeutic Approach
HBOT for a range of TBI models has depicted a positive neuroprotective effect when administered at a pressure of no less than 3 ATA. However, it is the heterogeneity of TBI that made way for HBOT to remain evasive, the other contributing factor being the hyperbaric chamber cost.
HBOT is increasingly effective for treating mild to severe TBI symptoms. Both normobaric oxygen therapy (NBOT), as well as HBOT (1.5 ATA), is proven to have neuroprotective effects. However, HBOT has shown increased efficacy for cerebral oxygen or pulmonary toxicity.
Multiple case studies have depicted enhanced cellular metabolism as well as tissue oxygenation. The complementary mechanism is both anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic.
The Cost Of HBOT Sessions
Undeniably, HBOT has altered the life of suffering patients across a range of chronic conditions like TBI, autism, OSTD, and much more. Nevertheless, the expensive tag that comes along seems to be a challenge for many.
The hyperbaric chamber cost is grossly misunderstood by many patients and their families. Before one holds a differential view, the situation demands reconsideration.
In several cases, the hyperbaric chamber cost is largely dependent on the condition of the patient and the associated symptoms. Some of the common factors include:
- Location– HBOT is provided by several medical institutions across private-run clinics, hospitals, and home-based arrangements. Now, any hospital that offers HBOT as a part of regular treatment might accept your insurance coverage, which can significantly bring down the expenses. However, several other hospitals treat HBOT as an off-label recommendation. In such scenarios, a private run clinic is always a better option. For a patient who requires the installation of a hyperbaric chamber at home, the upfront cost is generally on the higher side. Lastly, the state where you live also plays an important role in determining the cost, as it varies from one place to another across the country.
- The severity of the condition– It’s only natural how a more severe condition leads to extensive use of HBOT. While a minor issue can be taken care of in a few sessions, a more chronic case will require repeated HBOT sessions, adding to the expenses. Thus, it is recommended that you invest in a portable hyperbaric chamber to be used at home. This will not only help to continue your treatment but also significantly lower your upfront payments for each session at a hospital.
- On and off label treatment – HBOT as recommended by physicians can be both on and off label treatment. The former type applies to conditions like decompression sickness, carbon monoxide positing, diabetic foot ulcers, and gas gangrene. FDA has a nod for HBOT to be used as an on-label treatment, which is covered by your medical insurance. On the other hand, HBOT when identified as an off-label treatment doesn’t fall under the coverage of insurance and one has to pay from his pocket.
HBOT for TBI is an effective form of treatment. However, being identified as an off-label option, it continues to remain inaccessible to many who can’t afford to pay for hyperbaric chamber cost, without insurance.