APEX Brain Centers

From Under the Sea to the Speed of Light: Exploring Hyperbaric and Laser Therapies for Brain Health

The world of brain health has seen significant advancements in recent years; advancements that are significantly changing the outcomes for so many with neurological issues. At APEX Brain Centers, we have been committed to staying at the leading edge of emerging therapies. Two novel approaches in the field of brain health are hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and low-level laser therapy (LLLT), both of which have demonstrated promise in treating and managing various neurological conditions and cognitive impairments.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves the administration of concentrated oxygen within a pressurized vessel, leading to increased oxygen saturation in the bloodstream and body tissues. This oxygen saturation can promote healing, reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function, aid in the body producing new blood vessels (angiogenesis), stimulate the immune system, and more. On the other hand, low-level laser therapy utilizes specific wavelengths of light to stimulate cellular processes and improve neural function. Both treatments have shown potential in addressing brain injuries, cognitive impairments, and learning and behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, ADHD, and addiction. And, both have synergistic effects, each helping the other become more effective!

In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries, cognitive impairment, and learning and behavioral disorders such as OCD, anxiety, ADHD, and addiction. Our approach also emphasizes  functional neurology,  neurofeedback,  balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental health.

The Basics of Hyperbaric and Laser Therapies

At APEX Brain Centers, we aim to incorporate the best practices in modern therapies to promote brain health. Two such innovative treatments we emphasize are hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and low-level laser therapy (LLLT).

HBOT is an advanced therapeutic method that has been utilized for decades in other areas of medicine that utilizes concentrated oxygen at pressures greater than the surrounding atmospheric pressure, aiding the human body in efficiently absorbing and transporting oxygen through the bloodstream to the cells, tissues, and organs. This  increased oxygen delivery, while under pressure, can improve cognitive function and promote healing, especially when addressing traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and neurodegenerative diseases.

LLLT involves using the  low-level lasers to stimulate cellular healing and enhance energy production in the body’s cells. The science behind LLLT demonstrates its potential to decrease inflammation, alleviate pain, and promote tissue repair. Particularly successful when applied to neurological conditions, LLLT has shown benefits for those with migraine headaches, brain injuries, cognitive impairments, and even, more recently, with the myriad symptoms that accompany long-hauler’s syndrome from COVID and other infections.

Overall, integrating  hyperbaric and laser therapies into our treatment plans is an essential component of our commitment to delivering the most effective support for those seeking optimal brain function and recovery. Our experience shows that these leading-edge technologies, combined with our foundational neurological and metabolic rehabilitative therapies, can make a significant difference in the lives of our clients.

Historical Background

In the quest to improve brain health and neurological function, we are constantly on the lookout for modalities that will enhance the effectiveness of our existing immersive rehabilitation programs. The historical roots of these treatments are traced  back to diving medicine and the study of how the human body responds to extreme environments, as well as ongoing studies in optogenetics and photobiomodulation.

Diving medicine pioneers like Behnke and Shaw played a vital role in understanding the effects of different gas mixtures and environmental pressures on the human body. Their research laid the groundwork for developing the hyperbaric oxygen therapy. During this treatment, patients are exposed to 100% oxygen at pressures higher than ambient atmospheric pressure in a hyperbaric chamber.

Over time, HBOT has evolved and become more widely recognized for its potential in treating various neurological conditions. Organizations like the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) have been instrumental in advancing the research and development of this therapy. We also understand now, particularly in the case of chronic conditions, that extreme pressures with higher risk can be replaced with milder pressures that are safer and provide little to no risk of injury.

In parallel with the development of hyperbaric medicine, studying  light and its potential therapeutic applications has driven innovations in laser therapy. One notable advancement in this field is low-level laser therapy, which harnesses the power of different light wavelengths to stimulate cellular activity and promote healing in the body. This therapy has been found to have various applications in brain health and is used as a non-invasive treatment for neurological disorders.

While research continues to explore the potential of these therapies, it is important to recognize that successful treatment outcomes often rely on comprehensive, multidisciplinary approaches. By integrating innovative treatments like HBOT and low-level laser therapy, our team at APEX Brain Centers aims to provide our patients with the most effective care options, helping them achieve better brain health and improved quality of life.

Hyperbaric Medicine in Detail

Hyperbaric medicine involves using increased atmospheric pressure to provide medical treatment for various conditions. One of its key components is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which entails administering oxygen at pressures higher than atmospheric levels1. This therapy is conducted within a hyperbaric vessel, where patients breathe in oxygen while experiencing atmospheric pressures 1.3 to 3 times greater than normal2.

The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) is the authoritative body that establishes guidelines for applying hyperbaric medicine3. In medical settings such as hospitals, they have approved 14 different indications for its use, including the treatment of conditions like air or gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, and chronic wounds3. The International Hyperbaric’s Association provides educational resources to help the public understand the differences between high pressure and mild hyperbarics, the latter of which are utilized in facilities such as ours.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has shown promising results in improving neurological conditions and cognitive abilities. In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we integrate HBOT with other treatments such as LLLT to promote healing processes and well-being in our patients. Through this approach, we capitalize on the synergistic effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy with our other foundational neurological and metabolic rehabilitative therapies, maximizing patient outcomes.

Given the expanding field of hyperbaric research, particularly in the area of mild hyperbarics, we anticipate that this treatment modality will continue to evolve and play an increasingly significant role in managing various neurological conditions and overall brain health.

Clinical Applications of Hyperbaric Therapies

In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with various health conditions. We’d like to discuss some common clinical applications for hyperbaric therapies.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is  effective for traumatic brain injuries by reducing inflammation and promoting healing in damaged brain tissue. Additionally, as an adjunct to more traditional approaches, it can benefit  individuals with cancer, as it helps increase oxygen delivery to hypoxic tumor cells and enhances immune function, potentially improving the effectiveness of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, and alcohol and other toxic poisonings are other conditions that can be treated with HBOT by reducing gas bubbles and increasing the transportation of oxygen to affected tissues while enhancing detoxification mechanisms, thus helping to alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

Another application is in treating anemia, especially when blood transfusions are not a viable option, as the increased oxygen levels can help improve the body’s ability to produce hemoglobin.

HBOT can be useful in addressing burns and crush injuries by delivering higher concentrations of oxygen to the damaged tissues, reducing edema, and promoting faster wound healing. In the case of infections, HBOT can inhibit the growth of anaerobic bacteria and enhance the body’s immune response to infection.

Chronic fatigue is another area where HBOT can be quite beneficial due to its impact on fuel delivery to cells and aiding in the production of growth factors related to cellular function.

Human performance is a large demographic embracing the benefits of mild HBOT, as many high level athletes have seen firsthand the benefits on recovery and athletic performance.

Finally, recent studies have suggested that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may have potential benefits for individuals with hearing loss. Increased oxygen delivery to the inner ear can help reduce inflammation and promote the recovery of damaged hair cells, leading to improved  hearing function. Loss of smell, as with COVID infections and other maladies, is also showing great promise for recovery due to the same mechanisms.

Risks and Side Effects of Hyperbaric Therapies

At APEX Brain Centers, we use hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) as one of our key treatment modalities to improve brain health in our patients. While HBOT has numerous benefits,  it is our duty to inform our patients about the potential risks and side effects associated with this therapy.

One of the most common complications that may occur during HBOT is barotrauma, which is an injury to the air-filled spaces in the body, such as lungs, sinuses, and middle ears, caused by changes in air pressure. Signs of barotrauma include ear pain, sinus discomfort, and sometimes even tooth pain due to air pressure changes within the chamber. This risk is quite low when engaging in mild HBOT therapy.

Patients undergoing HBOT may also experience temporary side effects such as fatigue, headache, lightheadedness, and vision changes. These symptoms, typically signs of cellular detoxification, usually resolve on their own shortly after the therapy session ends.

A rare but severe risk associated with HBOT, typically at higher pressures, is arterial gas embolism. This occurs when air bubbles are introduced into the bloodstream and can cause blockages in blood vessels, leading to serious complications. However, this risk is more commonly associated with scuba diving and is not typically encountered in controlled clinical environments.

Current Hyperbaric Research Trends

In recent years, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has garnered attention as a promising treatment option for various neurological conditions. At APEX Brain Centers, we stay up-to-date with the latest research trends in this area. Studies analyzed within the past decade reveal that while the annual number of HBO2 publications remained stationary, certain trends in hyperbaric research have emerged.

Despite the growing interest in hyperbaric research, clinical trials in HBOT remain sparse in comparison to other treatment modalities. We recognize the need for more studies, especially related to brain health and functional neurology. Our team is constantly reviewing the latest research and evaluating the real-world application of findings and clinical outcomes in our practice. This continuous refinement of our treatment methods helps to ensure that our patients receive the most current and effective care possible.

Overall, the potential of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in treating a wide range of neurological conditions is becoming increasingly apparent. As we continue to monitor the evolving landscape of hyperbaric research, we remain committed to providing our patients with the latest and most effective treatment options available.

Laser Therapies for Brain Health

LLLT has shown significant potential in improving cognitive function and aiding recovery from brain injury and concussion. The treatment works by emitting red and other visible spectrum light wavelengths, which can penetrate the skull and activate specific biochemical processes within brain cells. This helps to increase metabolic activity, energy production, and neuroplasticity, all of which are vital for cognitive function and overall brain health.

Research suggests that LLLT may also aid in repairing  damaged neurons and reduce inflammation within the brain. These effects are particularly beneficial for those recovering from traumatic and acquired brain injuries, as well as individuals experiencing cognitive impairments and learning and behavioral disorders, such as OCD, anxiety, ADHD, and addiction.

As advances in science and communication continue to unfold, we remain dedicated to sharing our knowledge and expertise with the community. This commitment enables us to stay at the forefront of research and practice, ensuring that we provide the most effective and innovative treatments for brain health, including low-level laser therapy.

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Future of Hyperbaric and Laser Therapies

As we move forward in the realm of brain health treatments, advancements in hyperbaric and laser therapies continue to show promise. At APEX Brain Centers, we know that these leading -edge technologies have the potential to revolutionize the management of brain-related conditions.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, research has been exploring the application of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in mitigating the effects of the virus. HBOT has been shown to reduce inflammation and promote healing in damaged tissues, which may prove beneficial in addressing COVID-19 complications.

As medical device technology evolves, accessibility to hyperbaric chambers and low-level laser devices will likely  increase, making them a more readily available option for healthcare providers and patients. By streamlining the process of purchase and integration, these devices will become a more integrated part of comprehensive care plans for brain health, both in the clinic and at home.

The combination of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, low-level laser therapy, and neurological, metabolic, and nutritional therapies is key to optimizing treatment outcomes. Our clinical outcomes study in this area focuses on how these therapies can work together synergistically to promote brain health and overall wellness.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbaric_medicine ↩
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy ↩
  3. https://www.uclahealth.org/medical-services/hyperbaric/indications ↩

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/

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