Orthopedic Surgery/Sports Injuries
HBOT is extremely helpful in increasing sports performance by allowing higher levels of training by increased oxygen supply reducing the accumulation of lactic acid, thereby reducing swelling and stiffness after exercise. Post-surgical orthopedic procedure healing time is reduced due to increased oxygen facilitating healing, decreased inflammation, and stimulating the formation of small new blood vessels to the injured area. The reduced inflammation and decreased swelling reduces post-operative pain, reduces recovery time and allows earlier and more aggressive rehabilitation. This is common to all kinds of injuries and different surgical procedures, but is most vital in areas where critical supply of blood is already in existence, such as tendon injury and repair, ligament injuries, and muscle tears.
Pre- and post-operative HBOT in orthopedic surgery can hasten healing time, and reduce swelling, thereby, reducing patient discomfort. Healing can be accelerated with HBOT and the applications of growth factors given with HBOT.
HBOT when used as management for sports injuries can lessen swelling, increase mobility, and increase range of motion. There is also great possibility of adhesive capsulitis and delayed bony union.
A useful place for HBOT is in the arena of dealing with sports injuries. The early application of HBOT lessens the recovery time and allows for earlier mobilization following sports injuries. The efficacy of this modality for these types of injuries has resulted in many high-profile athletes acquiring their own HBOT units. HBOT also lessens therapies as well as the possibility of adhesive capsulitis and the occurrence of delayed, or non-union. HBOT is also helpful in shortening the healing time of simple bone fractures, which is very important for osteoporotic patients in particular. Case reports have been cited in which fracture healing has occurred in as little as two weeks. At last count, some 125 high-profile professional sportsmen own their own HBOT units. Young people with a high level of athletic excellence are now using HBOT routinely in their training regimens to increase performance, decrease injuries, and shorten post-injury healing times.
Another important aspect of sports injuries is the management of players that suffer concussions. HBOT plays an important part in the management of these players and the improvement in neurological function. The management should be considered at all levels of sports whether at high school, college or the professional level.
A study of soldiers that suffered concussions, and subsequently received low dose HBOT demonstrated improvements in memory, concentration, executive function, quality of life, reduction in headaches, depression, and anxiety. The average veteran also experienced an average increase in IQ of 15 points.
Not to be forgotten in the realm of sports injuries is the role that HBOT can play in reducing long term brain deterioration, by subjecting boxers to HBOT following a bout where the potential damage can be reduced, particularly when the boxer has been knocked out or received multiple punches to the head. Like injuries in the NFL resulting in dementia, so does a similar scenario of dementia exist in boxers that have received heavy punishment to the head in one or more fights.
- George Allibone M.D.