Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

3 Surprising Ways Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Helps Brain Health

Big wave surfer Shawn Dollar broke his neck while surfing in 2015, and after his neck brace came off a long three months later, everybody thought he was all better. Although his physical wounds had healed, his brain hadn’t, and he suffered from feelings of anxiety and depression, couldn’t do basic math, and often felt confused. “Something had to change, waiting for my brain to heal was taking too long,” Shawn writes on his website. “I desperately needed help. I needed a shortcut to healing.”

Shawn found that help when he was introduced to Amen Clinics, where he underwent brain imaging tests called SPECT that measure blood flow and activity in the brain. His MRIs had shown no structural damage to his brain, but these scans told a different story—they revealed damage from repeated concussions due to all the big wave wipeouts he’d experienced as a pro surfer. “Everyone else to this point said I was fine,” he says. “But I now had clear medical proof to support what I was feeling.”

Along with other treatments, Shawn underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to promote healing. “I felt significantly better after the first HBOT treatment,” he said. “I could think more clearly, I was faster mentally and just felt better overall. I could literally feel my brain working better. I can’t stress enough how much HBOT can quickly and safely heal a concussion or TBI.” Shawn continued his treatment and today, he is happier and closer than he has ever been with his family.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?

HBOT is a noninvasive treatment that involves breathing concentrated oxygen in a special pressurized chamber to promote healing and reduce inflammation. Better known for helping with wound healing and decompression sickness, HBOT can also help with brain health in the following ways.

HBOT enhances blood flow to the brain.

Before-and-after brain SPECT imaging studies of people who have undergone HBOT show remarkable improvement in blood flow to the brain. Adequate blood flow in the brain is vital for mental health. SPECT scans that show low blood flow have been associated with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, suicide, substance abuse, and more. Low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

HBOT promotes healing after traumatic brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) increase the risk of anxiety, panic attacks, psychosis, PTSD, ADHD, suicide, and more. Treating the underlying TBI with concentrated oxygen can promote healing, according to research. A 2011 brain imaging study looked at 16 soldiers suffering from PTSD following a TBI. They underwent brain imaging and neuropsychological testing before and after 40 sessions of HBOT. After treatment, they demonstrated significant improvement in impulsivity, mood, anxiety, quality of life scores, and more. Their SPECT brain scans showed remarkable overall improvement in blood flow.

HBOT improves brain metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2019, researchers reported the first brain imaging study to document improvements in brain metabolism in a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. The study was performed on a 58-year-old woman who had been experiencing cognitive decline for 5 years. After 40 sessions of HBOT, she reported improved memory and concentration, decreased disorientation, less frustration, and her anxiety was gone. The brain scans showed 6.5-38% improvement in overall brain metabolism, prompting the researchers to suggest HBOT could be a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s patients.

At Amen Clinics, 40 percent of our patients have had TBIs, including mild ones where you don’t pass out, and HBOT is one of the treatments that can help. Many of our patients, including surfer Shawn Dollar, at Amen Clinics who have undergone HBOT, have experienced improvement in cerebral blood flow. Benefits they have reported include reduced headaches, depression, and irritability, as well as improved sleep, cognition, mood, and memory.

If you would like more information on this safe, noninvasive treatment, call 888-288-9834 or make an appointment online.

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  1. Cathy says:

    HBOT sounds like an easy answer to many possible issues- at least worth’s try for some. I’m curious about all that we hear about free radicals and oxygen therapy, however. Has this been studied over time?

  2. Bruce soldano says:

    Are. There any HBOT treatment in Cincinnati or Dayton Ohio area

  3. Jill Richardson says:

    In 2005 my husband had carbon monoxide exposure while working in China. He was found unconscious in his Hotel. He could not walk or talk after his exposure. The Chinese Doctors put him in a HBO Chamber numerous times. After each HBO treatment he improved drastically.

  4. Dorothy Biagioni says:

    Are there Amen clinics in Vancouver, BC, Canada?
    Thank you

  5. Lynda says:

    Hi, I have heard some conflicting comments on wether hybaric oxygen therapy is safe if you have cancer or high levels of oxidative stress. What is your opinion? I have both an ABI and lymphoma.
    warm regards

  6. Margaret says:

    I am a diabetic and have been experiencing short memory loss. Do you think HBOT could help me.

  7. Rob says:

    I have been using amen for almost 2 years-SPECT and consultation for health- they recommended oxygen treatment- I have done approximately 25 sessions- I found similar results-very helpfully 61 year male

  8. Cori Gonzalez says:

    How soon after TBI should someone have HBOT?

  9. Ginger says:

    Is HBOT used on NFL players that have had concussions?

  10. Cheryl ku says:

    How do you go about getting a appointment for a hyperbaric oxygen treatment? And how much is one session? What about it helping healing with migraine headaches?

  11. Steve Pohlit says:

    Great article demonstrating the benefits of oxygen to the cells. The science supporting the device I represent shows a 32% increase in oxygen absorption in cells. That result is residual meaning it lasts for 12-16 hours. It is also cumulative meaning the rate of blood flow through the micro vessels is restored to or close to a younger person so over time clogged cells are restored to normal circulation which means they too get the oxygen needed.. These results and more from the PEMF device I have heard people talk about the success in using this in conjunction with Hyperbaric The PEMF device and the accessories that come with it are practical for long term use at home, office or clinic. They help the body including the brain in many ways. For more information I can be reached at 727-224-4743 and would love to see Dr Amen test this in his clinic.



  13. Pamela M Mitchell says:

    What exactly is the difference between this and being on oxygen therapy for COPD?

  14. John Miranda says:

    An you send a link to any studies showing HBOT has helped with mental illness?

  15. LYoung says:

    Have there been any studies about the effects of this on ABI in Canada? One thing to point out, if you have or have had cancer, your doctor will not allow you to have this treatment as it can make your cancer worse.

  16. Judith L Crisman says:

    Traumatic brain injured from ladder fall. 5 months hosp & rehab..Now home in day therapy program..cognitive recovery slow..irritable, depressed, scattered memory, vision issues, poor judgement..needs continuing supervision..Family is struggling..
    Male, 54, workmen’s comp. Insured..
    Can this help?

  17. Marie Smith says:

    I am living in Florida and would like to know if there is a HBO Chamber in South Florida that lets
    people pay to have a session. Does this require a doctor prescription? Does anyone know the cost
    of a session.

  18. Linda Zecchino says:

    There is one in Fort Lauderdale, on Oakland Park Blvd. Sun Hyerbarics.


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