What is it about?

Many researchers today agree that PTSD results in long-term functional and structural changes to the brain. Symptom severity and resistance to various treatments correlate with the severity of brain changes. Using HBOT-induced neuroplasticity as a new therapeutic strategy for those with treatment resistant PTSD, we have shown for the first time that HBOT may target those brain changes. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) uses the combined action of delivering high levels of oxygen (hyperoxia) and pressure (hyperbaric environment), to improve tissue oxygenation. HBOT has been used worldwide for years to treat chronic, non-healing wounds, but recent studies have revealed that HBOT has a positive impact on neuroplasticity in various conditions such as poststroke, cerebral palsy and fibromyalgia. The randomized controlled clinical trial included 35 veterans with treatment resistant PTSD who underwent either HBOT (n=18) or a control period (n=17) for three months. The study’s primary endpoint included a change in global symptoms score, using clinician-administered PTSD scale (CAPS) questionnaire. Functional MRI was used for the evaluation of brain function, and DTI-MRI was used for the evaluation of microstructural integrity. A significant and substantial improvement in PTSD symptoms and depression was observed after HBOT. The marked clinical improvement was accompanied by improved brain functionality and microstructural integrity, as evident by fMRI and DTI-MRI.

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Why is it important?

The study offers a new concept, approaching the biological barriers to treatment response. The promising results bring some hope for cure to many combatants who suffer from this chronic debilitating disorder.


As soon as PTSD is perceived as a biological condition, a new approach to its diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring needs to be developed. A comprehensive research program seeking for biomarkers, for biological barrier responsible for the unremitting nature of PTSD and for interventions that will augment HBOT effect is currently running in our center. The program will contribute to the conversion of PTSD from a subjectively reported, symptoms-based disorder to an objective, signs based one.

Dr. Keren Doenyas-Barak
Tel Aviv University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves symptoms, brain’s microstructure and functionality in veterans with treatment resistant post-traumatic stress disorder: A prospective, randomized, controlled trial, PLoS ONE, February 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264161.
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