The month of December is not defined by last-minute Christmas shopping and long lines filled with customers grumbling about the lack of boxes or giftwrapping options available. Rather, December is truly characterized by the joy of the holidays, reflecting upon the past year, and welcoming the future. Accordingly, it is important to give—not just to communities, but also to those who have already offered us their lives to protect our freedom. Many veterans have given their today to ensure our successive tomorrows, and we, the American people, are indebted to them.
How can we help our veterans?
While many veterans receive treatment for visible afflictions, some wounds are not seen by the naked eye. Studies indicate that the symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) improve with the administration of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A recent study in the Journal of Neurotrauma found that veterans who underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) experienced:
• Improved cognition, by an average of 15 IQ points
• Improved, sustained energy levels
• Reduced depression
• Reduced Post-Concussion symptoms
• Reduced anxiety
• Reduced headaches
• Reduced sleep disruptions
• Reduced PTSD symptoms
How can pressurized oxygen restore such a variety of functioning?
We cannot live without oxygen. The brain consumes oxygen at an astonishing rate. The presence of oxygen allows the brain to sustain and maintain itself. When access to oxygen is restricted, the brain is unable to sustain living or prune away cells that have degenerated. As a result, certain areas of the brain may become dormant. Dormant brain cells present the same way that dead brain cells appear: nonfunctioning. However, when oxygen is reintroduced to these inactive areas, some brain matter may respond and become revitalized; oxygen can “jump start” brain activity in areas where neurons (i.e., brain cells) have stopped functioning.
How can we know that hyperbaric
oxygen therapy is really helping?
There are several ways we can show the brain responding to hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. Neuroimaging techniques, such as SPECT scans (single-photo emission computed tomography) show levels of brain activation. Pre-treatment scans show areas of brain inactivation, in stark comparison to post-treatment SPECT scans, which reveal increased activation in the same areas. Additionally, neuropsychological evaluations administered before and after hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions indicate improved functioning, as a result of receiving treatment.
Have you had any personal experience with helping veterans with TBI?
Helping Our Wounded (H.O.W.) is a 501©3, which has sponsored the treatment of a veteran at the Hyperbaric Services of the Palm Beaches. A veteran we have treated suffered a blast-induced TBI, which caused the following symptoms: impaired attention; memory loss; diminished language skills; and excruciating, unrelenting headaches. Together, these symptoms led to him losing his job. This occupational loss resulted in subsequent depression and sleep disturbances. After successfully completing 40 hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions, his family and staff noticed dramatic improvements in cognitive functioning and quality of life. As compared to his pre-treatment neuropsychological assessment, post-treatment tests confirmed marked improvements in areas of attention, memory, speech, and language. He has been cleared for work and has begun re-licensing training.
How can I give back?
Helping Our Wounded raises money for any hyperbaric treatments that are not yet covered by insurance. Several neurological afflictions include (but are not limited to): TBI, PTSD, autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and Lyme disease. Please call us at (540) 687- 9318 to arrange a donation. Start the New Year by giving to those who have already given so much to you.
For additional information on the uses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, please contact The Hyperbaric Services of the Palm Beaches, LLC at (561) 819 – 6125 or find us online at www.hbotxofpalmbeach.com.