AAHF Scores a Victory with HBOT for Wounded Veterans

October 7, 2008
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Hope For Traumatic Brain Injury, Diabetic Failure-to-Heal Wounds, and More?

On September 30, President Bush signed into law the FY2009 Continuing Resolution that contains the Defense Appropriations bill. In doing so, crucial funding became available to complete a scientific study important to all Americans.

Seventeen years ago, Paul G. Harch, M.D., discovered that hyperbaric oxygen therapy at 1.5 atmospheres of pressure (HBOT 1.5) could repair a chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI). Dr. Harch, director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Fellowship at Louisiana State University’s School of Medicine and an AAHF board member, has used the therapy on over 700 patients and has taught the technique to hundreds of doctors.

This year Dr. Harch applied HBOT 1.5 to five combat veterans of the current war who have traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from concussive blasts. So far, all of the veterans treated have had significant recovery. Eighty percent no longer have PTSD and all are improved.

Recently, Dr. Harch testified in front of the Surgeon General of the Navy and the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps. He told the stories of the five combat veterans he treated with HBOT 1.5; three of those veterans were in the room.

One of them, a judge who served as a general in the Army Reserves, endured a year of treatment failures at Walter Reed. He is now back on the bench, fully recovered in 120 days, after 80 HBOT 1.5 treatments. The Health Freedom Foundation, sponsored a Marine machine gunner who experienced seven concussive events from roadside bombs during two tours in Iraq. Now, after HBOT treatments, his migraine headaches have disappeared, his sleep is restored, his PTSD is gone. He is now actively employed. He has his life back, as do other veterans who have undergone HBOT treatment.

At Louisiana State University in New Orleans, under an approved study protocol, Dr. Harch is now treating another thirty veterans of the war who have TBI and PTSD. AAHF sought funding from Congress for this important study for the past two years. This year, after nearly 200 visits to members of Congress, funding was finally provided.

In April 2008, the RAND Corporation, a non-profit “think tank” highly respected by the government and NGOs, found that of the 1.6 million veterans of the war, 300,000 have PTSD, 320,000 suffer TBI, and 80,000 have depression. Current treatment costs for each of these conditions, when treated separately, is more than HBOT 1.5. Its one-time cost is $16,000 (80 treatments) and appears to treat all three symptoms simultaneously; the earlier a person is treated, the more effective the recovery, and the fewer the treatments needed.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy at 2.4 atmospheres of pressure is already used 10,000 times a day at over 900 locations for everything from non-healing diabetic wounds and radiation injuries from cancer treatment, to fourteen other Medicare-reimbursable and FDA-approved indications. HBOT 1.5 is a dose of HBOT that clinical experience shows is safe and effective for TBI..

According to Dr. Ted Fogarty, Chairman of Radiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, “Functional neuroimaging shows HBOT revitalizes brain tissues and restores normal brain metabolism in vastly different areas of the brain in ways that other existing treatments cannot. To leave these injured neurons in our brave veterans to wither on the vine seems criminal when HBOT 1.5 is available and works.”

Today a multi-state coordinated effort is under way to treat vets at 78 locations. We expect this AAHF-coordinated effort will result in the necessary scientific proof to establish HBOT 1.5 as the standard of care for acute and chronic neurological injuries, and we hope it will secure reimbursement by the VA, Tri-Care, Medicare, and civilian insurance.

The body of scientific evidence indicates that modern medicine has overlooked hyperbaric oxygen as a key tool in the treatment of strokes, diabetic failure-to-heal wounds, and conditions like reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Timely HBOT therapy could reduce the incidence of stroke (the leading cause of disability in the U.S., with over 500,000 reported cases each year) and amputations due to diabetic failure-to-heal wounds. HBOT has sound science, many years of clinical practice, and a convincing reason for all of us to seek access when it can be of help.

Learn more about AAHF’s work to make hyperbaric oxygen therapy available to all our armed forces who have suffered traumatic brain injury, PSTD, and depression.

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