Some justification for further clinical trials of hyperbaric oxygen for post-concussive symptoms

Citation: Hart BB, Weaver LK, Gupta A, Wilson SH, Vijayarangan A, Deru K, Hebert D. Hyperbaric oxygen for mTBI-associated PCS and PTSD: Pooled analysis of results from Department of Defense and other published studies. Undersea & hyperbaric medicine: journal of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. 2019;46(3):353.

Background: Some clinical trials report improvement in persistent post-concussive symptoms (PCS) with hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), but questions remain regarding the utility of HBO2 for PCS, the effects of HBO2 on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the influences of sham control exposures.

Methods: A systematic review and pooled analysis was conducted to summarize available evidence for HBO2 in mTBI-associated PCS ± PTSD. Data aggregated from four Department of Defense (DoD) studies with participant level data (n=254) were grouped into pooled HBO2 and sham intervention groups. Changes from baseline to post-intervention on PCS, PTSD, and neuropsychological measures were assessed using linear mixed models to evaluate main intervention and intervention-by-baseline PTSD effects. Potential dose-response relationships to oxygen partial pressures were investigated. Intervention effects from three other published studies with summary level participant data (n=135) were also summarized.

Results: Pooled DoD data analyses indicated trends toward improvement favoring HBO2 for PCS (Rivermead Total Score: -2.3, 95% CI [-5.6, 1.0], p=0.18); PTSD (PTSD Checklist Total Score: -2.7, 95% CI [-5.8, 0.4], p=0.09); and significant improvement in verbal memory (CVLT-II Trial 1-5 Free Recall: 3.8; 95% CI [1.0, 6.7], p=0.01). A dose-response trend to increasing oxygen partial pressure was also found, with a greater HBO2 effect in mTBI-associated PTSD suggested. The direction of results was consistent with other published studies.

Conclusions: A definitive clinical trial, with an appropriate control group, should be considered to identify the optimal HBO2 dosing regimen for individuals with mTBI-associated PTSD ± PCS.