Research Snapshot: Drs. David Fuller and Sara Turner

two comparison images from cells under a microscop. One is very blue and the other is more orange
The hyperbaric oxygen treatment resulted in an increase in the number of detectable neurons in the injured spinal cord

By Todd Taylor

In a new rat-model study, University of Florida neuroscientists reported that hyperbaric oxygen therapy initiated shortly after a spinal cord injury aided in improving recovery.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves brief exposure to pressurized oxygen and is a well-established treatment for promoting wound healing and treating decompression sickness.

Using histological and molecular analysis, the researchers found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy initiated in rats shortly after spinal cord injury and continued for 10 days altered the molecular signature of the injured spinal cord in a manner consistent with an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective impact.

The study, published in the May edition of the Journal of Neurotrauma, was led by David Fuller, Ph.D., a professor of physical therapy and associate director of UF’s Breathing Research and Therapeutics Center, and Sara Turner and Michael Sunshine, both former postdoctoral researchers in Fuller’s lab.

“Our study adds to the growing scientific literature indicating a benefit of providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy after spinal cord injury,” Fuller said. “Ongoing work in our laboratory is exploring the physiological benefits and mechanisms of this treatment after spinal cord injury. We hope to move towards clinical testing in the future.”

Read the paper in the Journal of Neurotrauma.