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HBOT Study: Hyperbaric therapy treats brain injuries


Study: Hyperbaric therapy treats brain injuries


Advocate staff writer
Published: Mar 16, 2010

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Promising results from an LSU pilot study that treated veterans suffering traumatic brain injury with hyperbaric oxygen therapy have led to a national trial that will be launched in the coming weeks.

Dr. Paul Harch, a clinical associate professor with the LSU Interim Public Hospital in New Orleans, presented the cases of 15 military veterans during a meeting of the Eighth World Congress of the International Brain Injury Association in Washington, D.C. The cases all involved veterans who were helped by the treatments.

On Monday, Harch participated in a teleconference to explain the treatment process and trial results to journalists.

To date, Harch has treated nearly 40 veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury, usually as a result of explosions, with the hyperbaric oxygen therapy originally developed to help deep-sea divers suffering from brain decompression illness.

Many of the veterans also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, Harch said.

The study shows 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," according to a news release from the nonprofit International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation.

The foundation, of which Harch is the president, is the sponsor of the national study.

“To date, 80 percent of those treated with this protocol have been able to return to duty, work or school," reports a February"Public Policy Bulletin" of the International Hyperbaric Medical Association, based in Lorton, Va.

“It’s a slam dunk," Harch said of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which uses greater-than-atmospheric pressure oxygen in an enclosed chamber.

He and his colleagues have seen"90 to 99 percent response rates," said Harch, who is also the director of the wound-care and hyperbaric medicine department of the LSU Interim Public Hospital.

“The beauty of it is there are no side effects and (it can be done) years and years after the injury," Harch said.

He said he has successfully treated veterans three years after the blasts that caused their brain injuries.

In the next several weeks, the International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation will begin recruiting up to 1,000 participants to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy at 15 sites in the U.S.





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