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This research paper was presented at the National Stroke Association Conference in Boston, October 16-18, 1997.Oxygen is Mother Nature's most natural drug, most important nutrient and the element most essential to life. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a unique and important treatment which uses oxygen under pressure for the correction and healing of stroke and traumatically brain injured (TBI) individuals. The first clinical use of hyperbaric oxygen for the treatment of stroke patients was reported in 1965 and many studies have been done since then proving its safety and effectiveness.
Most people believe that a stroke is due to the death of brain cells. Brain cells are thought to die as a direct result of the interruption of blood flow and the resulting lack of oxygen to a part of the brain. This concept of what a stroke ishas been dogma for at least the last 100 years. This traditional concept of infarction, that the brain tissue dies from a blood and oxygen shortage lasting more than a few minutes, is no longer valid.1 A different concept has been slowly evolving over the past 25 years that the death of brain cells occurs only when the flow of blood falls below a certain level (approximately 8-10 ml/100 gr./min.) while at slightly higher levels the tissue remains alive but not able to function. Thus in the acute stroke the affected central core brain tissue may die while the more peripheral tissues remain alive for many years after the initial insult, depending on the amount of blood the brain tissue receives.
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