In this Research Rundown we examine a study that used hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat animal subjects suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) associated with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Highlights:

  • The study shows substantial evidence of HBOT being beneficial for PTSD/TBI in animal models; with the conclusion stating that the benefits did not translate well to humans.
  • Why did it not translate well to human clinical trials?
    • Conclusion states it may have been more of a problem with “appropriate control groups instead of a lack of efficacy”.
    • Many of the referenced studies are still actively recruiting human subjects suffering a TBI/PTSD and have been for years. This means that if researchers failed to find people who meet the TBI/PTSD requirements for the study, it makes sense why animals were used.
    • Why are animal subjects used in place of humans? Typically if HBOT was found beneficial in the animal subjects, then that should translate over to a human benefit.
    • Researchers spent a lot of time trying to define a placebo/sham group in hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Do you eliminate oxygen or pressure? If you have one and not the other is it a true placebo?
  • While no conflict of interest is reported by the authors, the study is funded by the Neurosurgery & Brain Repair Group at Southern Florida University (Brain Surgeons).
  • Interestingly, the study’s references fade into the optimistic world of using HBOT to treat autism. Six studies of autism are referenced with high marks, which appears to be a deflection away from the initial study which was to identify the benefit of HBOT to treat PTSD with TBI patients.

The study references other studies that already show HBOT has been proven safe for humans, so there isn’t really a need to return to animal studies. So, in the end, if we had a TBI and PTSD, we might not care if there was a clearly defined placebo group.

 

Read the Full Paper:
Eve, Steele, Sanberg, Borlongan (2016). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder associated with traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 2016 ;12():2689-2705. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27799776