Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by changes in both brain activity and microstructural integrity. Cumulative evidence demonstrates that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) induces neuroplasticity and case-series studies indicate its potentially positive effects on PTSD. The aim of the study was to evaluate HBOT’s effect in veterans with treatment resistant PTSD.
Veterans with treatment resistant PTSD were 1:1 randomized to HBOT or control groups. All other brain pathologies served as exclusion criteria. Outcome measures included clinician-administered PTSD scale-V (CAPS-V) questionnaires, brief symptom inventory (BSI), BECK depression inventory (BDI), brain microstructural integrity evaluated by MRI diffuse tensor imaging sequence (DTI), and brain function was evaluated by an n-back task using functional MRI (fMRI). The treatment group underwent sixty daily hyperbaric sessions. No interventions were performed in the control group.
Thirty-five veterans were randomized to HBOT (N = 18) or control (n = 17) and 29 completed the protocol. Following HBOT, there was a significant improvement in CAPS-V scores and no change in the control (F = 30.57, P<0.0001, Net effect size = 1.64). Significant improvements were also demonstrated in BSI and BDI scores (F = 5.72, P = 0.024 Net effect size = 0.89, and F = 7.65, P = 0.01, Net effect size = 1.03). Improved brain activity was seen in fMRI in the left dorsolateral prefrontal, middle temporal gyri, both thalami, left hippocampus and left insula. The DTI showed significant increases in fractional anisotropy in the fronto-limbic white-matter, genu of the corpus callosum and fornix.
HBOT improved symptoms, brain microstructure and functionality in veterans with treatment resistant PTSD.
Doenyas-Barak K, Catalogna M, Kutz I, Levi G, Hadanny A, Tal S, et al. (2022) 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 17(2): e0264161. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0264161