A clinical associate professor from the Louisiana State University Interim Public Hospital in New Orleans, Dr. Paul Harch, presented proof positive that hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps brain injury victims. Harch presented data at the Eighth World Congress of the International Brain Injury Association on 15 veteran soldiers who had been helped by the treatments, according to an article in The Advocate.
On March 15, Harch explained the treatment process via teleconferences to journalists, the article noted. Further, the study revealed a “15-point increase in IQ in little more than a month, great reduction in depression, four times the expected improvements in €¦ headaches and sleep disturbances, and great improvements in post-traumatic stress disorder,” The Advocate reported. The International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation (IHMA) funded the study, the article noted.
The results seem phenomenal. The IMHA reported that, “To date, 80 percent of those treated with this protocol have been able to return to duty, work or school.” With results like these, the treatment will likely inspire radical changes in the current traumatic brain injury treatment protocols. The oxygen chamber treatments consist of using a “greater than atmospheric pressure oxygen” inside the chamber, The Advocate reported.
In fact, the results are more promising than almost any other available treatment. Harch told the advocate that the hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy has demonstrated “90 to 99 percent response rates,” in practice. Recruiting of 1,000 patients for oxygen chamber trials will begin next week for a study that began March 15, 2010 in the United States. The study will involve patients with mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries who will receive 80 treatments over the course of 5 months, many of them veterans, The Advocate said.
It is hoped that hyperbaric oxygen treatments will alleviate much of the long-term brain damage associated with roadside bomb blasts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even though many veterans of both combat fronts had been injured multiple times, they still received dramatic benefit from the oxygen treatments in pilot studies.
Paul Harch, underlining the importance of oxygen therapy, told the Digital Journal, “Failure to effectively treat brain injury can result in life-long cognitive loss. Even a single episode of loss of consciousness from trauma has been shown to cause permanent injury to the brain. That is why this study is so important.” He added that oxygen chamber treatment might also prove to stimulate brain tissue growth as well as mitigating damage already done.
The Digital Journal reported that hyperbaric oxygen treatment began eighty years ago when it was employed to help divers recover from the bends – decompression sickness. Modern technological advancements have made the chambers a perfect match for treating traumatic brain injury. Since brain injuries lead to billions of dollars spent on treatments and care, oxygen treatments may also prove to reduce the amount of money spent on managing long term care, if the treatments prove as effective as the pilot studies show.
A Syracuse Post Standard article reported further on the results of the 15 veterans who took part in Harch’s pilot study. The article said that results showed, “a great reduction in depression, four times the expected improvement in post-concussion symptoms including headaches and sleep disturbances, great reduction in post-traumatic stress disorder, and 15-point increases in IQ in little more than a month.”
The treatments take place in a closed pressurized chamber saturated with pure oxygen. While the Food and Drug Administration have not yet approved it for use with traumatic brain injury patients, the treatment has proven useful and has been “approved to treat 13 other conditions, including wounds that don’t heal,” the Post Standard article reported. For further information and to volunteer to participate in the study, call the International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation at 800-288-9328.
In a very short time, it is likely all traumatic brain injury survivors will have access to oxygen chamber therapy. The good news is that it doesn’t cost much compared to other treatments, and it will provide benefit even to patients whose injuries occurred years earlier, though more treatments will be necessary in those cases.
Couvillion, Ellyn. (March 16, 2010) “Study: hyperbaric therapy treats brain injuries.” Retrieved on March 16, 2010 from The Advocate Web site:http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/87736247.html
Mullins, K.J. (March 15, 2010) “HBOT trial launches, seeking 1,000 volunteers.” Retreived on March 16, 2010 from the Digital Journal Web site:http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/289124
Smith, Amber. (March 16, 2010) “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treats soldiers with traumatic brain injury; researchers seek more volunteer TBI patients.” Retrieved on March 16, 2010 from the Syracuse.com Web site:http://blog.syracuse.com/cny/2010/03/hyperbaric_oxygen_therapy_treats_so…