Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Fractured cheekbone of Race Driver

Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 15:52
GMT McRae's oxygen cure
From : http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Hyperbaric chambers are used to help stricken divers Rally driver Colin McRae is reputed to have used a pressurised oxygen treatment to speed his recovery from injury.

McRae suffered a fractured cheekbone in a horrifying crash during the Rally of Corsica, just a few weeks ago.

However, he could be fit to drive again in the San Remo rally on October 20 - and his hours spent lying in a tank breathing high pressure oxygen may have helped achieve this.

This therapy, called hyperbaric medicine, was first developed to help divers who had fallen prey to "the bends", a potentially fatal condition caused by ascending through the water too quickly.

The rapid rise cause large bubbles of nitrogen to form in the blood if left untreated, these can kill.

Scientists discovered that by placing divers in a pressurised chamber and making them breathe 100% oxygen, instead of the 21% found in normal air, a cure could be achieved.

The increased pressure - up to three times atmospheric pressure, compresses the bubbles of nitrogen and forces some to dissolve back into the blood.

Other conditions

And the pure oxygen also seems to be able to flush out the nitrogen from the bloodstream.

However, in recent years, doctors have become more and more aware of the potential of hyperbaric medicine in other medical conditions.

Dr Stephen Watt, who treats patients at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, said that 100% oxygen delivered at above atmospheric pressure appeared to be able to reduce inflammation in certain damaged tissues speeding up the healing process.

If the damage had been caused by an interruption of the proper blood supply, such as in the case of open wounds, burns or frostbite, some sessions in the chamber might be able to help.

Dr Watt said: "There is some evidence that oxygen interferes with this inflammatory process, and may help reduce some of the side effects it will accelerate healing."

Much research has concentrated on applications in diabetes, where problems with the blood and oxygen supply to tissues can lead to ulcers which heal slowly, or do not heal at all.

One study looking at the recovery of facial bones after the insertion of implants found the normal recovery rate of 65 to 70% boosted to over 90% by hyperbaric therapy.


Oxygen may keep us alive, but it is not without its risks as a treatment, and 100% oxygen is actually poisonous, particularly at high pressures, which mean the body absorbs more.

So patients can only spend a few hours a time having treatment.

The treatment can take more than one form.

If the patient is quite ill, and needs supervision by a nurse, then it may take place in a large metal chamber in which the air is pressurised, and the patient given the extra oxygen by facemask.

There are also solo treatment chambers, which can be made out of perspex, and are completely filled with high-pressure oxygen.
However, Dr Watt says these may not be suitable for all patients - adding that the fire risk of large quantities of pressurised oxygen is not inconsiderable.

The Importance of Glial Cells

HBOT brings dissolved oxygen to the glial level that is important in treating brain damage. HBOT helps redistribute blood to the non-ischemic areas around the lesions, preventing these areas from being harmed. These areas are generally affected by the response of the brain to injury which is a vasoconstriction, making them more susceptible to ischemic damage also, thereby continuing to spread the damage beyond its original area. HBOT prevents this stealing" of blood, reducing intra cranial pressure and raising tissue oxygen flow.

For more information,

The role of Hyperbaric-Oxygen Therapy for intra cranial pathology in Intensive Care.

Glial cells are important and preventing their damage is necessary.

Lowly Glia Strengthen Brain Connections

STANFORD -- Once dismissed as mere padding, cells known as glia may be essential for the correct wiring of the brain. This is the conclusion of a study reported in the Sept. 12 issue of Science by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Postdoctoral fellow Frank Pfrieger and Dr. Barbara Barres, associate professor of neurobiology, used pure populations of nerve cells and glia to show that, by themselves, the nerve cells connected together poorly, but the combination of the two cell types resulted in strong connections between nerve cells.

In the brain, such connections allow nerve cells to pass along messages about our every sensation, thought and movement.
Glia make up approximately 90 percent of the cells in the human brain, and yet researchers have assigned mainly passive functions to them. Some glia wrap around nerve cells and insulate them with a protein called myelin. Glia at synapses act both as a physical barrier that prevents crossed wires and as a disposal unit that mops up extra messenger molecules released by nerve cells.

The nerve cells chosen for the Stanford study -- retinal ganglion cells -- lead from the eyes deep into the brain. Barres is using them as representatives of a large class of nerve cells in the brain: those that use a chemical messenger called glutamate to send a positive, or excitatory, signal.

It is also possible, she said, that glia control the strength of synapses in the fully developed brain, beefing up some circuits and turning down others.

For more information on the above, see: Lowly Glia Strengthen Brain Connections.

There are five types of glial cells:

*Oligodendroglia, which provide the insulation (myelin) to neurons in the central nervous system.
*Schwann Cells, which provide the insulation (myelin) to neurons in the peripheral nervous system.

  1. *Astrocyte (Astroglia), star-shaped cells that provide physical and nutritional support for neurons:
    to clean up brain "debris";
  2. To transport nutrients to neurons;
  3. To hold neurons in place;
  4. To digest parts of dead neurons;
  5. To regulate content of extra cellular space

*Microglia, which like astrocytes, digest parts of dead neurons.
*Satellite Cells, which provide physical support to neurons in the peripheral nervous system

For more information, see Glia; The Forgotten Brain Cell.

All Rights Reserved @ Hi-Tech Hyperbaric Medical Centre, Malaysia.