Monday, May 16, 2011

Stroke And HBOT: For The Record

Is hyperbaric oxygen therapy useful? In an otherwise clear and fair reply to this question, Dr Andrew Weil today wrongly listed stroke among the "conventional" uses of HBOT. Specifically he says HBOT is used "to speed stroke recovery."

Stroke is not an FDA-cleared or UHMS-approved indication for hyperbaric oxygen. We judged the current evidence on HBOT for stroke promising when we published our stroke page and posted our summary here in 2009. Basing their analysis solely on randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the authors of a 2005 Cochrane Review article see things differently:

We did not find good evidence to show that HBOT improves clinical outcomes when applied during the acute presentation of ischaemic stroke. While evidence from the six RCTs is insufficient to provide clear guidelines for practice, the possibility of clinical benefit has not been excluded. Further research is required to better define the role of HBOT in this condition.

Italics ours. Yes, the evidence on HBOT for stroke is pretty thin, both in the the acute phase and in longer-term recovery. Is it the hyperbaric oxygen therapy or the clinical trials that have been weak?

Weil's error seems harmless enough. He oddly mentions stroke again in his list of conditions for which he finds "no persuasive scientific evidence" that HBOT can help: AIDS, arthritis, sports injuries, multiple sclerosis, autism, stroke, cerebral palsy, senility, cirrhosis, Lyme disease, and ulcers. No argument there.

O2.0 is the news blog of HyperbaricLink, the independent web guide to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

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