Hope for Rugby Players with Brain Injuries

A new case study offers hope for retired rugby players suffering from brain injuries sustained during their careers. The report focuses on “FC”, a 36-year-old former captain of the English national rugby team. Over his 20-year career, FC endured at least 20 diagnosed concussions and likely many more unreported head injuries.

After retiring, FC continued experiencing debilitating symptoms including memory problems, sound sensitivity, coordination issues, and mood changes. His symptoms fit the criteria for Traumatic Encephalopathy Syndrome (TES) – a condition associated with repetitive head impacts that can progress to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Seeking treatment, FC underwent 60 sessions of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). This involved breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber to increase oxygen delivery to damaged tissues. Studies suggest HBOT can aid recovery from concussions and TES by reducing inflammation, promoting growth of new blood vessels, and stimulating repair mechanisms.

Remarkably, FC showed significant improvement after the 2-month HBOT protocol. Brain imaging revealed enhanced activity in regions related to memory, language, and sensory processing. Cognitive testing showed gains in memory, attention, processing speed, and motor skills. FC also reported resolution of previous concussion symptoms.

While larger studies are still needed, this case offers hope that HBOT could help counteract brain damage in athletes exposed to repetitive head trauma. The authors suggest early diagnosis of TES is key so treatment can begin before irreversible injury. For retired players like FC struggling with lingering effects of concussions, HBOT may provide a route to healing both body and mind after years of sacrifice on the playing field.

Source: Annals of Case Reports, Wang Z, et al. Ann Case Rep: 8: 101550, www.doi.org/10.29011/2574-7754.101550, www.gavinpublishers.co7 14 Dec 23