Research Snapshot: Dr. David Fuller publishes new collaborative rat-model study

The hyperbaric oxygen treatment resulted in an increase in the number of detectable neurons in the injured spinal cord

David Fuller, PhD, professor and Rehabilitation Science Program Director, published a new rat-model study along with Sara Turner and Michael Sunshine, former postdoctoral researchers in Fuller’s lab, in the May edition of the Journal of Neurotrauma. The study reported that hyperbaric oxygen therapy initiated shortly after spinal cord injury aided in improving recovery. “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.”

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.