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Adverse events and blinding in two randomized trials of hyperbaric oxygen for persistent post-concussive symptoms

Safety monitoring and successful blinding are important features of randomized, blinded clinical trials. We report chamber- and protocol-related adverse events (AEs) for participants enrolled in two randomized, double-blind clinical trials of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) for persistent post-concussive symptoms clinicaltrials.gov identifiers NCT01306968, HOPPS, and NCT01611194, BIMA), as well as the success of maintaining the blind with a low-pressure sham control arm. In both studies, participants were randomized to receive HBO2 (1.5 atmospheres absolute, >99% oxygen) or sham chamber sessions (1.2 atmospheres absolute, room air). In 143 participants undergoing 4,245 chamber sessions, chamber-related adverse events were rare (1.1% in the HOPPS study, 2.2% in the BIMA study). Minor, non-limiting barotrauma was the most frequently reported. Rarely, some participants experienced headache with chamber sessions. No serious adverse events were associated with chamber sessions. An allocation questionnaire completed after intervention revealed that the sham control arm adequately protected the blind in both trials. Participants based allocation assumptions on symptom improvement or lack of symptom improvement and could not discern intervention arm by pressure, smell, taste, or gas flow.


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