Study Shows Hyperbaric Oxygen Successfully Treats Combat Veterans with TBI
Did you know that 57% of Revolutionary War soldiers survived their wounds? By contrast, in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, thanks to Kevlar vests and helmets, 90% of our soldiers survive them. About a third of all damage from IEDs and other weapons occurs to the head – and injuries are often invisible. Many of our brave combat veterans sustain devastating traumatic brain injury (TBI) that disrupts brain function and yet goes untreated for years. A study by Dr. Paul Harch now shows conclusively how hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) helps to ease the suffering of those who have sustained brain injuries.
Living with Traumatic Brain Injuries
Combat veterans with TBI suffer from headaches, disrupted sleep, anxiety, depression, ear-ringing, seizures, difficulty balancing, light sensitivity, and trouble thinking and planning. Their decision-making abilities are also often impaired. No wonder so many TBI sufferers feel agitated and angry. They are truly suffering. Doctors routinely prescribe psychiatric medications, sleep aids and pain killers. But results of studies show how soldiers can successfully ease symptoms with HBOT so that they can rely less on these oftentimes addictive drugs.
The Promise of HBOT as a Treatment for Soldiers with TBIs
A 2011 study published in prestigious peer-reviewed Journal of Neurotrauma and conducted by Dr. Paul G. Harch and colleagues at LSU School of Medicine New Orleans, the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, and the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and Amen Clinics shows the promise of HBOT to treat soldiers with TBI. The researchers treated 16 active duty and retired U.S. veterans with HBOT nearly three years after IED and rocket-propelled grenade explosions caused them to sustain brain injuries.
Physical exams, cognitive testing, high resolution SPECT brain blood flow imaging and individual self-reports of life quality were used to gauge the success of the therapy.
After having 40 low pressure HBOT treatments within a month, each of the combat veterans made significant gains. Incredibly, results showed the veterans had a nearly 15 points IQ increase.
That’s about the difference between the IQ of a construction worker versus the IQ of an engineer! The veterans’short term memory, executive function and concentration all improved significantly. This has clear implications for HBOT to help veterans to go back to college or achieve higher paying jobs. Importantly, the imaging analysis was able to prove that the blood flow improved significantly with hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and also that the resulting cognitive improvements could not be explained away by a placebo effect.
Veterans in the study had marked reductions in headaches and depression – as well as suicidal thoughts. Almost two thirds of those taking psychiatric medications were able to cut back on these or discontinue the meds altogether. All of the study’s subjects reported significant improvements in quality of life after just a month. At a phone follow-up six months later, almost all of the veterans reported they continued to sustain their improvements.
In 2014, Dr. Harch and others at Louisiana State University in collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command conducted a long-term, randomized study that included 100 participants. We are still eagerly awaiting their published results.
Do I believe that HBOT is a magic bullet that reverses all effects of TBI? No, I don’t. But I have seen over and over how effective this low-risk treatment is for easing the devastating symptoms of traumatic brain injuries. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy truly allows our wounded warriors a better quality of life and an unparalleled opportunity to recover.
If you’d like to learn more about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and whether it could benefit you or a loved one, please contact us for a hyperbaric oxygen therapy consultation. Schedule your appointment today online or by calling 727-787-7077. A member of our office staff will be glad to respond to your questions and confirm your appointment.