Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Successful on Local Brain Injury Victims & PTSD Sufferers
A local doctor hopes hyperbaric oxygen therapy will be approved for more uses than what’s currently covered by insurance. He already sees success with it helping people with brain injuries and PTSD.
Joshua James listens to music during his hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
A traumatic brain injury nineteen months ago initially left him paralyzed, unable to speak or eat.
His mother Jody James said, “We had two doctors tell us don’t mistake any of his movements as meaningful. It was severe. They didn’t expect much.”
But after eighty-three hyperbaric oxygen treatments, breathing ninety-seven percent pure oxygen, his life has changed.
Jody said, “Now, he totally feeds himself, and does a lot of things for himself. He shaves himself, brushes his own teeth.”
Doctors at Mercy hospital use hyperbaric medicine to heal wounds like diabetic foot infections and bone infections.
Dr. Brad Pontani said, “Oxygen is the fuel to the fire. Think a fire won’t burn without oxygen. All of our healing mechanisms don’t work without oxygen. All of our white blood cells that fight off infection work better in a high oxygen environment. All of our bone cells that heal bones work better in high oxygen.”
But Dr. Steven Skaggs who works with Joshua and other traumatic brain injury victims, believes that healing can translate to the brain.
Skaggs said, “That hyperbaric oxygen flips off the switch for inflammation, and flips on another switch for angio genesis which is the formation for new blood vessels. And also, and this is really exciting, we’re getting stem cell formation in the brain.
He has eight hyperbaric patients like Eric Davis, who suffered a brain injury in a bicycle accident. And others with PTSD.
Army Sergeant Maria George, a hyperbaric patient said, “My hyper vigilance has decreased dramatically. I used to be very paranoid and get highly upset when someone would stand right behind me and now I don’t have a problem with someone standing behind me. I used to have to sit facing the door, now that’s not an issue. My nightmares has gone pretty much, and I can sleep pretty good too.”
Sgt. George also said it has helped with pain in her back where she had surgery for a combat injury. “It just disappeared. That was a miracle.”
Dr. Skaggs said, “We’ve got to get this accepted cause it is a viable alternative.”
Hyperbaric therapy for diabetic foot wounds wasn’t approved until 2001 and other ailments have been added to the treatment protocol since so it may only be a matter of time and case studies until other injuries are recognized.
Dr. Pontani said, “There is definitely a possibility brain injury patients will become patients for us in the future.”
Joshua now gives high fives and fist pumps and has a goal of learning to walk. And he’s talking.
His mom Jody said, “It’s a miracle and that’s the word the therapists are using.”
Doctor Pontani says there’s also potential for post stroke patients.
He says evidence based studies are being done there but require controlled studies that measure outcomes including treatment with placebos.