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HBOT News

Dr. Paul Harch New York Times Article

Effective Concussion Treatment Remains Frustratingly Elusive, Despite a Booming Industry

New York Times, July 3, 2015

by Barry Meier and Danielle Ivory

 Dr. Paul G. Harch, who operates a clinic on the outskirts of New Orleans, contends treatment in a hyperbaric chamber can alleviate symptoms that follow a concussion. Credit William Widmer for The New York Times In a small brick building across the street from a Taco Bell in Marrero, La., patients enter a clear plastic capsule and breathe pure oxygen.

The procedure, known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, uses a pressurized chamber to help scuba divers overcome the bends and to aid people sickened by toxic gases. But Dr. Paul G. Harch, who operates the clinic there on the outskirts of New Orleans, offers it as a concussion treatment.

One patient, Rashada Parks, said that she had struggled with neck pain, mood swings and concentration problems ever since she fell and hit her head more than three years ago. Narcotic painkillers hadn’t helped her, nor had antidepressants. But after 40 hour long treatments, or dives, in a hyperbaric chamber, her symptoms have subsided.

“I have hope now,” Ms. Parks said. “It’s amazing.”

 

See the entire story at NewYorkTimes.com

 

Photo: Dr. Paul G. Harch, who operates a clinic on the outskirts of New Orleans, contends treatment in a hyperbaric chamber can alleviate symptoms that follow a concussion. Credit William Widmer for The New York Times


LSU, Miles seeking solutions to the concussion problem

August 12, 2013-© 2013 Tiger Rag [Re-Post permission acquired]

University teaming up with New Orleans doctors who believe they have found the answer

Josh Wilford - Concussion 2012By LUKE JOHNSON
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor

Chris Tolliver doesn’t remember the play that ended his college football career.

It’s a broken recollection, pieced together for him by teammates and doctors. Tolliver was fighting for playing time on a team that would go on to play in the national championship game, and needed to stand out in fall camp, so he tried to make the type of dazzling play that made him a coveted wide receiver recruit coming out of Rayville High School.

While in practice, Tolliver leapt high to snag a ball that sailed above his head. A teammate wrapped Tolliver’s legs as he soared in the air.

Tolliver spun like a pinwheel, all the while being pulled back toward the earth. His head was first to hit the turf, and the lights went out.

“I don’t remember nothing from when I had it,” Tolliver said. “The trainers told me I couldn’t stay awake. I kept closing my eyes.”

Tolliver sustained a Grade III concussion, which rates as the most severe.

He rolled through his symptoms: “Memory loss. I had a little blood coming from my nose, or whatever. I was throwing up, couldn’t hardly eat. I was having headaches consistently. … Light was hurting my eyes. Sound, music, TV. I was in the hospital watching the TV on mute. Any small thing.”

Tolliver spent most of that season on the shelf getting his concussion symptoms under control. But the only way he could do that was to rest, and he was restless.

“It was frustrating,” Tolliver said. “I’m the type of person that likes to keep going, keep working hard, keep getting better. And when I couldn’t do it, the LSU trainers and coaches saying, ‘You can’t practice today. You can’t practice today.’ I was mad.

“When I got mad, the frustration made the headaches from my concussion come back. So I had to stay calm as possible.”

Eventually Tolliver was cleared, but he probably came back too soon. He suffered two more minor concussions in practice, giving him three in a year-long span. LSU coaches and medical staff intervened. Worried about potential long-term damage, they made the call: Tolliver would never play football at LSU again.

It’s a sad story of tremendous potential going by the wayside. Not because Tolliver got caught up in the wrong things off the field, but because he was trying to do the right thing on it. Considering the violent and unpredictable nature of the sport, it’s a regular occurrence.

Just ask senior guard Josh Williford, who like Tolliver has no recollection of the play that took most of his junior season from him.

He’s seen it on film, and that was what scared him the most about the concussion he suffered a little more than a minute into the second quarter of LSU’s loss to Florida last season.

Listening to Williford speak about the injury, it almost sounds like an out of body experience. He’s able to recall and describe the play — what the play call was, how he got in position to get knocked unconscious — but only from TV’s camera angles. It’s a facsimile of what used to be unique to his mind. The game film scared him because it was physical evidence of a memory that’s no longer accessible.

Zach Mettenberger threw an interception, Williford was working his way down the field to help make the tackle and BAM! He’s blindsided several yards away from the play and lying motionless, face down at the Swamp with LSU’s medical staff rushing to his side.

Josh Williford shortly after sustaining a concussion against Florida on October 6, 2012. Josh Williford shortly after sustaining a concussion against Florida on October 6, 2012.

After the game, Williford ate Chick-fil-A for dinner. But he doesn’t remember that either, not even immediately afterward. He ate, and then asked his mother what they were having for dinner. And he asked again. And again.

He spent several weeks in what amounted to sensory deprivation in his lightless room. He unplugged his TV and only used his phone to contact family and LSU’s medical staff. Any other sort of stimulation — light, sound or even intense thought — and the headaches came back with fury. At one point, a teammate told Williford that he’d relayed an entire sentence backwards to him.

Williford tried returning for the Alabama game after passing a battery of tests to prove he was ready. But it didn’t take long before a minor collision with former LSU linebacker Kevin Minter brought his symptoms back.

“All of a sudden, I go out there, I didn’t even really get hit hard and my head was about to explode,” Williford said. “It wasn’t as bad as it was (when I was first injured) but it got pretty bad. I had to go back and start from the beginning.”

Williford was cleared a day before LSU traveled to Arkansas for its regular-season finale, but he wouldn’t play until the Chick-fil-A bowl, nearly three months after his original concussion.

He spoke at length Aug. 6 about last year’s concussion after completing his second practice of this year’s fall camp. Two days later, Williford sustained another concussion in practice. He reportedly lost consciousness again, giving him his second severe concussion in 10 months.

Tolliver’s career was done. Williford’s season, and now possibly his career: lost. And they’re not alone.

Williford and Tolliver are part of a growing number of athletes experiencing major head trauma on the football field, and until recently there was no proven way of treating or rehabilitating their invisible injuries outside of rest and medication.

Maybe that’s all about to change.

LSU is working with doctors in New Orleans who might just hold the key to eliminating both long and short-term concussion effects. If their research treating brain injuries with hyperbaric oxygen therapy proves fruitful, one of the most pressing issues in sports could finally be showing some light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

And to think, that spark of light could trace its beginnings, in part, to a little sunburn.

EUREKA MOMENT

Is there any more fitting scenario than LSU coach Les Miles potentially altering the course of college football in a light bulb-over-the-head moment of genius?

A sunburned Miles decided his sensitive skin wouldn’t get in the way of some exercise, so he went for a run. He returned, huffing and puffing, to find his sunburn felt better.

He concluded there was a connection between that sensation and his increased oxygen intake. Synapses fired and dots started connecting.

“As a layman, I seem to think I understand it,” Miles said. “I recognized when I was feeling down, that if I’d go take a run I would feel better. One way I would get rid of sunburns was … I’d go take a run and I’d get great blood flow.

“I always focused on the fact that it was the blood flow that would make me feel better. The healing would start.”

Miles took interest in hyperbaric oxygen therapy when one of his former players from his time as a Dallas Cowboys assistant coach made him aware of the work New Orleans-based doctors Paul Harch and Keith Van Meter were doing.

The former player said, according to Miles, “The only thing that anybody is doing that’s actually treatment is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and the two guys are in your state.”

Miles met with a team physician and set up a meeting with the doctors. His goal, according to Harch, was simple.

“(Miles) said, ‘Look, I want the best for my players. I want to be able to treat their injuries and protect them against what we’re now seeing is inevitable for people with multiple concussions.’”

THE SCIENCE

Harch, who earned his M.D. from Johns Hopkins University, has been studying the healing qualities of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for nearly three decades. Most of his work aimed toward traumatic brain injury has occurred in the last 10 years.

The basic premise is fairly simple. A patient gets into a chamber that is pressurized to a level greater than the earth’s atmosphere, and then breathes 100 percent oxygen. In Harch and Van Meter’s treatments, the patient undergoes a minimum of 40 one-hour treatments in the chamber.

Through the combination of increased pressure and oxygen, the oxygen is dissolved into the liquid portion of the blood and becomes immediately available for use. The oxygenated liquid blood is transported and diffused to all areas of the body.

In addition, recent experiments have found there are more than 8,000 genes in our DNA that are oxygen and pressure sensitive, according to Harch. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy triggers those genes to promote growth and repair hormones in tissue.

“That rise in oxygen and pressure, and then removal of it, signals in some fashion … the 8,101 genes in our DNA to begin either elaborating proteins or shutting down bad genes,” Harch said. “The genes coded for cell death are shut off.”

The science itself has been difficult even for neurologists to understand, but the results from Harch and Van Meter’s prior research have been stunning.

Most of Harch and Van Meter’s research on treatment of traumatic brain injury through hyperbaric oxygen has centered on military veterans returning from combat. Roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan have left a large number of servicemen dealing with precisely the type of injuries Harch and Van Meter are trying to heal. (WWL did this story on a veteran who benefitted from their treatment)

According to a pilot trial conducted by Harch and Van Meter in 2011, “veterans achieved improvements in memory, concentration, executive function and quality of life and a reduction in headaches, concussion symptoms, depression and anxiety” with “an increase in IQ of 15 points.”

In each case, Harch and Van Meter found that single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) images, which provide a look at the inner workings of the brain, showed improved blood flow to the damaged areas.

The difference between veterans returning from combat and athletes, in this case, is negligible.

“My argument is, if this works so well for severe (traumatic brain injury), why wouldn’t it work for acute concussion?” Harch asked.

Their findings are potentially revolutionary in the neurology field, which has traditionally looked at brain injuries as untreatable.

“We have been taught in neurology that there is nothing you can do for brain injury or stroke, and that’s for the better part of 100 years,” Harch said. “It’s finally changing now, as people are beginning to think the brain is no different from a heart, a kidney, a joint, any other organ. That, in fact, you can treat an injury to it.”

As for Miles, he isn’t limiting the applications to traumatic brain injuries. He said he was amazed by the tale of a diver who was submerged underwater without a breathing apparatus for 20 minutes. When the diver was pulled ashore, he had drowned.

The diver was rushed to a hyperbaric chamber and survived.

“There is some science here that’s really pretty special,” Miles said. “Frankly, I think there’s a bunch of ways we could use it. Certainly concussions are one.”

Does Harch believe his research can eliminate a problem that’s grown larger as it’s become more understood?

“I don’t believe, I know,” Harch said. “I will tell you unequivocally that this can and will prevent the downstream consequences if used judiciously and correctly. It truncates the injury process, so if done early on you can prevent much of the damage. You can stimulate repair.”

All of their studies have been done with veterans who were several months to several years removed from their brain injuries. They hope the results are even more pronounced if the injury is treated soon after it is incurred.

Williford, in Harch’s opinion, is treatable.

THE ROADBLOCKS

If Harch has found his research to be so successful, why isn’t it already in practice in locker rooms around the country? It’s a complicated issue, but according to Harch, it basically boils down to these three words:

“The medical profession.”

Here’s the thing about hyperbaric oxygen therapy research regarding traumatic brain injuries — in some circles, it’s viewed as a fringe treatment, kind of like high-tech acupuncture.

While Harch and Van Meter’s research has shown it could potentially treat a wide variety of illnesses — like stroke, diabetes and PTSD — it’s been treated with skepticism in the medical world, largely because nobody could explain how it worked.

“People found success with it, but the problem was nobody could adequately explain how it was working,” Harch said. “When they stood up and said, ‘Wow, I’ve treated this patient with XYZ diagnosis and using hyperbaric oxygen this patient got better,’ there was heavy criticism of it.”

“Simultaneously, people were billing insurance companies, Medicare and so on and nobody understood the science. So in the face of criticism and the absence of the ability to explain what was going on and then simultaneously charging and getting reimbursement, there was a severe backlash against hyperbaric oxygen to the point where it was branded a faulty treatment.”

The money is a big issue, as well. Harch charges $200 per treatment at his clinic, which can seem like a lot until you see the average cost is at a hospital is right around $1,800 for the first treatment.

It’s been that way at private clinics for some time. Harch’s mentor, Dr. Richard Neubauer, started treating neurological diseases with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. He was having success with his treatment, and was charging “one-fifth to one-tenth of the hospital charge.” This, Harch said, threatened people in two ways.

“It was so financially and scientifically threatening and challenging, respectively, that it was heavily criticized and repressed,” Harch said.

Currently, outside of the potential use of hyperbaric oxygen, there are no proven ways to treat a traumatic brain injury. The only remedies available are rest, therapy and medication.

But buyer beware, said Harch.

“None of the medications are FDA approved for treatment of concussion,” Harch said. “None. Not one. All of the drugs they’re using are drugs they’re using off-label, meaning not for their intended use. And every single one comes with a black-box warning for increased suicide rate, especially in those under 25 (years of age).”

“It’s a disgrace.”

REACTIVE VS. PROACTIVE

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may revolutionize the way concussions are treated. But that’s only one side of the equation.

Football, at every level, is taking a proactive approach to limit the number of concussions its athletes suffer, though in order to do this effectively the entire ethos of the football player will probably have to change.

The idea that a player is soft if he sits out after a big hit is still a work in progress. But the big hits that were once celebrated will now be penalized.

This season, a new rule will go into effect in the SEC that punishes players for hitting a defenseless player above the shoulders. The rule is specifically designed to reduce head trauma

If an illegal hit occurs in the first half, the player will be suspended for the remainder of the game. If it happens in the second half, the player will sit out the remainder of the game and also be suspended for the first half of the ensuing game.

SEC Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw gave a demonstration on how the new rules would work at SEC Media Days, and rolled through a handful of video clips that likely would’ve landed on ESPN’s “Jacked Up” segment a couple years ago.

“It’s a very difficult rule to officiate, but it’s the right rule. It’s right for football,” Miles said. “… I don’t want to have (players) falter later in their years. If there’s a magic number for concussions, and we can limit some of that injury, then I’m all for it.”

“We’re going to abide by it as best we can.”

If the rule were in place last season, the player who knocked Williford out would’ve likely been suspended for the remainder of the contest. Maybe Williford would never have sustained a concussion in the first place.

But there is some resistance to the rule changes. While player safety is becoming increasingly important, the rule change could have some adverse effects on the game itself.

How will an official be certain he’s making the right call when the players are moving so fast? What will happen if the wrong call is made and it effects the outcome of a game? Will the altered style of play result in a new string of injuries, perhaps a rash of torn ligaments as players attempt to slow down before a collision?

That remains to be seen. But for now, Miles and his assistant coaches are teaching the players to tackle low. It might even turn into something of an advantage for LSU.

“I think the guys that coach it well and coach it best will have an advantage come game day,” Miles said.

LEAVING HIS MARK

Football has been good to Miles. It brought him invaluable life lessons while playing under legendary coach Bo Schembechler at Michigan and the financial security that’s come with his success as a coach.

That’s partially why he felt compelled to help find a way to treat what’s been a scourge to those playing his sport.

“This is something that I believe in, and I want to be involved in the investigation,” Miles said. “To see if this, in fact, could give an impact to the healing piece.”

Now, it’s Miles’ turn to give back to the game that’s given him so much. It was part of the reason he turned to Harch and Van Meter.

“He wants to contribute to this game beyond national championships and success at LSU,” Harch said. “He wants to contribute in a way that can affect future generations playing this sport. And he felt very strongly that it’s going to be through hyperbaric oxygen.”

GETTING STARTED

It’s not as if LSU can purchase a couple high-quality hyperbaric chambers, drop them in the training room and start treating concussions.

“You can’t be treating someone in a fieldhouse, a training room or a stadium in a hyperbaric chamber,” Harch said. “You need it under maximum medical conditions.”

Together they proposed a treatment center at Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge, where injured players can begin treatment minutes after being diagnosed with a concussion. The treatment center at Our Lady of the Lake, while not yet operational, is “happening,” according to Miles.

Harch isn’t sure if the treatment center at Our Lady of the Lake will be in place by the end of the season, but he would be able to provide treatment in New Orleans if he can find a way to fund it.

Before the research can revolutionize the way concussions are treated in the sport, it needs to produce results. But that couldn’t contain Miles from publicly stating his excitement for the possibilities at SEC Media Days.

Seconds into his half-hour press conference, Miles began brought up the potential offered by the research. But his remarks didn’t necessarily hit their intended mark. Blame it on Miles’ public speaking notoriety.

He has a knack for getting keyboards clacking during his press conferences, usually with his trademark juxtaposed syntax. So it was almost too much for those in attendance when Miles uttered the words, “hyperbaric oxygen.”

It was a Twitter punch line. Miles might as well have brought up how he planned to walk on the moon. But it was not a joke.

“I think people thought, ‘Wow, what a wacky comment. The coach is doing his PR thing up there,’” Harch said. “But he is way ahead of everybody. He is dead serious about it, he is right on target.”

Written by tigerrag · Filed Under Football, Luke Johnson

 

Paul Harch M.D. Lecture - HBOT in TBI at BIALA 2013

 

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) BIALA 2013

March 2013

Dr. Paul Harch explains in detail the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy benefit in TBI at The Brain Injury Association of Louisiana’s annual conference.

 


Paul G. Harch M.D. Lectures at BIALA 2013


 

On March 21st the foremost doctor of hyperbaric oxygen therapy Dr. Paul Harch was featured at the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana’s annual conference held at the Embassy Suites in Baton Rouge.  Dr. Harch lectured for 77 minutes about how TBI can be treated, and gives in depth details of the HBOT benefits to chronic and acute traumatic brain injuries.  A concise version of Curt Allen, a 19 year old male who sustained a TBI from a motor vehicle accident, is shown with commentary never before heard.  

BIALA’s Annual Conference is the leading brain injury conference in Louisiana and attracts brain injury and/or spinal cord injury survivors, family members, medical professionals, discharge planners, therapists, and state officials. 

 

WWLTV Eyewitness News Covers GSW Treated With Hyperbaric Oxygen

Uptown NOLA Shooting Victim Seeking Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

 

Dr. Harch talks about GSW and HBOT Improvement

 

 

 

wwltv.com
Posted on December 3, 2012 at 6:31 PM
Updated Wednesday, Dec 5 at 2:16 PM

 

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

 

NEW ORLEANS -- Grace Kaynor is the wife of a shooting victim who is now speaking about a desperate situation following a violent crime.

"I went to sleep and the next thing I knew the police were in my bedroom saying, 'Ma'am, you have to wake up. Your husband's been shot and he's in the driveway,'" she said.

It was the night of Oct. 2, when a father went out to his car to get something for his special-needs daughter. That's when a neighbor heard two gunshots and a man shouting "No."

The men then went in the house and stole several things, even out of the daughter's hands.

There have been no arrests in the case.

 

 


Family of wounded shooting victim wants treatment for victim

 

 

wwltv.com
Posted on December 11, 2012 at 6:42 PM
Updated Tuesday, Dec 11 at 7:26 PM

 

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

 

NEW ORLEANS -- Just last week the wife of a man shot in his driveway, told us about the devastating health conditions that Sandy Kaynor was going through since the crime.

She also told of the battle she is fighting on his behalf against the medical system and his health insurance company.

There is still a huge uphill battle for the Kaynor family. They want treatment, not a nursing home.

 


 

 

Event raises money for shooting victim who wants hyperbaric treatment

 

 

wwltv.com
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Updated Monday, Dec 17 at 10:21 PM

 

Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
Email: dwoltering@wwltv.com | Twitter: @dwoltering

 

NEW ORLEANS -- Family and friends fighting to get shooting victim Sandy Kaynor the medical treatment they feel he needs held a fundraiser Monday night.

They're raising money so Kaynor can get hyperbaric oxygen treatment to help him recover from devastating injuries.

Sandy Kaynor, 53, lost 30 pints of blood and wasn't expected to live after gunmen shot him in his driveway in a robbery in early October.

The bullets severed his spinal cord. During surgery he clinically died. His brain was deprived of oxygen, leaving him unresponsive.

“I don't feel that my husband should have to suffer because he was shot in our driveway,” said Grace Kaynor, Sandy’s wife. “He is a completely innocent victim in all of this.”

But Sandy – a father, attorney and musician – was destined for a nursing home when his insurance company initially refused to pay for hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat his brain.

“And it's just a travesty that this would happen to someone so precious,” said longtime friend Virginia Barkley.

Kaynor's colleagues at the Jones Walker Law Firm held a fundraiser to help with expenses.

Post Concussion Syndrome Treatment with HBOT Mother-to-Mother Letter

Post Concussion Syndrome Treated Two Years later with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
A Mother-to-Mother Letter

By Eileen Geller RN

June 2012


Hi, I'm Eileen Geller, a Seattle-RN and mom of Nate, who is now 13 years old.  I understand you have some questions about the potential use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for your nephews, one of whom has lost his eyesight.  I am most happy to speak to you or to your sister or one of your other family members about Nate's experience.  Perhaps it might also be helpful for me to provide a brief written overview of Nate's experience so you can pass this on in advance of a phone call.  At 10 years old Nate received a brain injury playing lacrosse. He had some pretty severe after-effects, including physical debility, pain, balance, hearing, and cognitive function loss.  The most severe problem involved vision.  Nate's entire peripheral vision was knocked out by the injury—he had only an inch in front if each eye with mostly clear sight, the rest of his vision was totally opaque and spinning constantly.  They determined the hit had knocked out his brain's ability to determine visual vergence, among other problems.  For a year and a half we went to a slew of doctors, neurologists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other specialists.  Eventually we went to a physician my ophthalmologist neighbor and friend called "the god of eye doctors."  This fellow actually told Nate to his face that his vision would "never ever improve."

 


Posted on December 5, 2012 at 10:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 5 at 10:41 PM

 

Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News Posts an Update to Nate's progress after being treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen by Dr. Paul Harch.

 

Teen suffering from Post Concussion Syndrome sees improvement with Hyperbaric oxygen treatment

 

 

Read the full update about Nate Geller covered by
WWLTV “Teen suffering from post concussion syndrome sees improvement with hyperbaric oxygen treatment" 

 


As an RN who, prior to Nate's injury, had directed a major medical center's palliative care team and run several organizations to improve support during injury, illness, and grief, I had a wealth of medical experience and contacts to utilize on Nate's behalf.  Because I come from a conventional medical model, it was natural for me to first seek intensive rehab and medical and pharmacological support for Nate.  Over the course of the first year and a half after his injury, we'd seen a plethora of clinical practitioners, all of whom confirmed both that there was no curative treatment for Nate's brain injury and eyesight, and that the only treatment for brain injuries like his was supportive care, rehab, medications.  They counseled patience over the long haul and hope he would improve somewhat over time. Some of his symptoms did improve, slowly over time with medication, rehab, and other therapies, but his eyesight never, ever improved, even a little, from the immediate after effects of his injury. 

Finally, in October of last year, I embarked on an intensive, 10 hour a day schedule of medical journal research for several weeks.  I read well over 500 medical journal articles and perused and reviewed many more, all of which were on the subject of brain injuries, neurology, vision loss, rehab, treatment, and medications.  Eventually I previewed an article by Dr. Paul Harch of New Orleans about the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in brain injuries as an alternative treatment. The article was about to be published in the prestigious Journal of Neurotrauma.   The results were extremely positive--not only did the post-brain injured veterans self-report to being better and feeling better, but the SPECT scans of their brains confirmed improved oxygenation and circulation to the damaged parts of their brains.  I then extensively researched both Dr. Harch and other practitioners of hyperbaric therapy, reading a multitude of national and international articles about the subject ranging back 20 years.  What I read convinced me that hyperbaric therapy was worth a try.  Since Nate's vision issues were so critical, we wanted to have the therapy done by the physician my research showed me to be one of the best (if not the best) in the world, with more than twenty years experience, Dr. Paul Harch.  Traveling to New Orleans from Seattle with Nate would be tough, but it seemed like the only chance for a curative therapy, one that might actually help improve his eyesight and other brain injury symptoms.

First we decided to check with Nate's Seattle physicians. They were (almost) universally opposed to the decision; worried he would have seizures or even loose his eyesight all together. When I weighed their general input against the hard data and research I'd collected, it seemed clear their opposition was based not on the physics, medical science, or data on hyperbaric oxygen therapy in brain injuries, but simply on lack of knowledge accompanied by some bias. These doctors had been willing to put Nate on a slew of medications for life, many of which were considered off-label for brain injuries, but not willing to consider a therapy which has been around 30 years, has a minimum of side effects when done by an experienced physician, has the lowest malpractice insurance of practically any medical specialty because it is so low risk, and has a proven track record of improving the condition of people with brain injuries. Finally, I went to a neurologist who'd been a military doctor in Iraq and Afghanistan who had seen literally thousands of brain injured veterans.  He said if it were his boy, he'd try hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  After all, he said,  "It's been around forever, has an incredibly low incidence of side effects, and it is the only therapy which offers a hope for measurable improvement for Nate. Why not try it?"

And so we did, even though, with a job, three other children, and ill and elderly parents who need my help, it wasn't easy to migrate across the country for medical treatment that would last five weeks.  Until I am a hundred years old, it will have been the best decision I will ever make.  Nate, who was so seriously impaired that one of his therapists said he was the sensorial equivalent of a C1 quadriplegic, is now, after 80 hyperbaric treatments, 90% better.  His physical mobility and balance are much improved, his cognitive function so well he is getting A's and B's in school, his chronic, severe, unremitting headaches gone, and, his eyesight dramatically better. He went from not being able to see the difference between a pickup truck and a compact car to being able to read, in regular print, the Hunger Games.  According to Nate, "Dr. Harch gave me back my life." 

In Dr. Harch's waiting room, I saw many patients become much better, including a 10 month old with cerebral palsy who'd been certified by several prominent ophthalmologists to be cortically blind.  This child, after hyperbaric therapy, was examined by those same doctors who said they'd never seen anything like it, but confirmed she'd regained 100% of vision in one eye and the other was much improved.  If I had any loved one with a brain injury, I would send him to see Dr. Harch right away.  Since we've been home, we've helped 15 or 20 friends or people we know receive hyperbaric therapy, including my dear friend who had four children injured in a car accident. All have evidenced improvement.

Please feel free to contact me with any further questions at http://waitingroomwisdom.tumblr.com/

Take care,

Eileen Geller


 

Congressional Testimony by Paul G. Harch, M.D.

THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2002.

INTERNATIONAL HYPERBARIC MEDICAL ASSOCIATION WITNESS IHMA PRESIDENT

DR. PAUL HARCH

 

Mr. REGULA: Okay, we'll get started, because we have a long list today, and we'll probably get some interruptions for votes. 

 We're happy to welcome all of you. These are important issues.  I just came from my office full of people with diabetes. And they're convinced that, maybe so, another couple of dollars and there will be a cure. I'm sure you feel the same way about whatever you're dealing with. 

 The United States has done a remarkable job in research. I was impressed the other day; the NIH people testified that every five years, life expectancy goes up a year. So in 50 years, that's 10 years. And that's thanks to the research that's done and a lot of what's happening, good diet and a lot of things that are pluses.

 Well, we want to get started, because we want to give everybody an opportunity. Our first witness will be introduced by David Vitter, from the great State of Louisiana.

Mr. VITTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm pinch hitting today for Ernest Istook, but I'm very, very happy and honored to introduce Dr. Paul Harch from Louisiana. He's an emergency and hyperbaric medicine physician who graduated magna cum laude and phi beta kappa from the University of California Irvine in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in biology and subsequently from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1980. He completed two years of general surgery training at the University of Colorado, one year of radiology at LSU School of Medicine, has worked 17 years in hospital based emergency medicine and 15 years in hyperbaric and diving medicine.

 His primary interests have been brain decompression sickness and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, base-spec brain imaging index neuro-rehabilitation. He is going to obviously talk more about his work.  It has been very, very promising, having treated over 180 children and 320 adults. And he's now recognized as one of the foremost authorities in the U.S. on hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 

 In that capacity, he's been elected as the first president of the newly formed International Hyperbaric Medical Association. And with that, I'm very pleased to present Dr. Harch.

Mr. REGULA: Dr. Harch, thank you for coming. Let me say to all of you, because we have 25 witnesses today, we have to limit you to five minutes. I'm sorry, but there just isn't any choice. And there's a little box on the desk that gives you a warning when the time is about to expire. If I ask questions, that's on my time.

Dr. HARCH: Thank you Chairman Regula and members of the Committee, I first want to thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Paul Harch, and as Mr. Vitter said, I am an emergency and hyperbaric medicine physician who is here representing the International Hyperbaric Medical Association and brain injured Americans. I'm not here to ask for money. I'm here to show you how we can save money and improve the health, welfare and outcomes of brain injured Americans.

 What I'd like to say is that simply, we have a treatment for brain injury that is--

Mr. REGULA: All types of brain injury?

Dr. HARCH: Almost all types. We have looked at this now in over 500 patients over the last 12 years and 50 different brain based neurological conditions. This is a generic treatment for brain injury with, I believe, the capacity to revolutionize the treatment of brain injury in the world.

 Amongst these 500 patients have been 180 children. The first five brain-injured children in the United States treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy were treated by me in New Orleans.  Many of these children have cerebral palsy, autism, near-drowning, a variety of neurological disorders. And many of them include IDEA children, who as you know, the Federal and State Government is now spending $55 billion a year to attempt to educate, when they don't have the capacity to learn, often from organic brain injury.

 This treatment, as we have shown in a number of these children, can give them the capacity to learn. And the cost is roughly about a year to a year and a half of the education support money.

 What I wanted to show you today was that this can be applied in a variety of conditions. After presenting this in 1992 through 1995 to scientific meetings and experiencing a fair amount of criticism, I went to an animal model. We have now done this and replicated this in animals and have the first-ever demonstration of improvement of chronic brain injury in animals.

 What I wanted to show you today and just mention quickly about diabetes, this is actually the only modality that can prevent major amputations in diabetics with foot wounds, which as you know is a major failed target of the Healthy People 2000 initiative. What I'm going to show you here today is, there are a few examples of what can be done.

 And the patient here, whose brain scans are on the poster, is one of Mr. Istook's constituents. This is the first Alzheimer's patient in the United States and possibly the world treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for his Alzheimer's. He was a 58 year old architect who of course had lost his job and now needs 24 hour supervision

and accompaniment by his wife.

 After a lecture I gave at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, the neurology group referred him as a test case.  What you're looking at here are brain blood flow scans. The way brain blood flow in the brain works is similar to a gasoline engine.  More gasoline, more blood flow, more RPMs to the engine, better metabolism to the brain.

 If you look at these pictures, these are three dimensional reconstructions of the human brain blood flow. On top here is the brain scan before treatment and this is the face view. We're looking right at the patient. The eyes would sit here, and wherever there are holes in the brain are significant reductions in blood flow. This is the right side view and this is the left side view, and here is the top view. Where the three major arteries in the brain on each side come together is right here, on each side. That's the most vulnerable area for brain injury. It's the area primarily injured in Alzheimer's.

 After three and a half months of treatment, 89 hyperbaric treatments, you see how all of these damaged areas of the brain have begun to fill in. Simultaneously, he was tested by the neuropsychologist at University of Oklahoma--

Mr. REGULA: We've got about a minute left. Tell me what the process is.

Dr. HARCH: It is putting a patient in an enclosed chamber, increasing the pressure and giving them pure oxygen. It dissolves in the blood and you're able to put the oxygen in the liquid portion of the blood, above and beyond what is bound to hemoglobin in our red blood cells, which as you and I now have, 100 percent saturation. It's then delivered to injured areas in the body, and by repetitive exposure, you grow new blood vessels, you stimulate damaged cells to begin repair.

Mr. REGULA: Because there's a more intense flow of oxygen to the injured, in this case the brain area.

Dr. HARCH: Exactly. And it's an ability to restore, not dead, but damaged tissue that is not functioning.

Mr. REGULA: Okay. You developed the process. It is being used or is it still in an experimental stage?

Dr. HARCH: It is being used for a variety of other indications.  And increasingly so for this, at a number of centers in the United States.

Mr. REGULA: Has NIH done any experimentation with this?

Dr. HARCH: No. Well, there has been some in the past, on senility and some other neurological disorders.

[The prepared statement of Dr. Harch follows:]

 

 

 

Testimony

"The Impact of Hyperbaric Medicine on

Government Health Care, Disability and Education Expenditures"

The International Hyperbaric Medical Association

Paul Harcb, M.D.

President

Before the

Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee

Of the Committee on Appropriations

United States House of Representatives

May 2,2002

 

 

Chairman Regula, Mr. Obey, and distinguished members of this committee, lam Dr. Paul Harch, President of the International Hyperbaric Medical Association, and a resident of Louisiana. Bob Livingston was my Congressman. Two years ago, Mr. Istook of Oklahoma started the Hyperbaric Oxygen Initiative at the National Institutes of Health.  Many of his constituents have become my patients, one of whom I will present today for the first time in a public setting.

We were all taught that brain cells don't regenerate. Four years ago, NIH announced to this panel that medicine had been in error all of these years and challenged the medical community to begin searching for a way to do so. Hyperbaric Medicine has been repairing brain injuries right here in America for 30 years, but no one would look at it because everyone "knew" that it was not possible.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves the delivery of $7 worth of oxygen in a pressurized environment created by a chamber. Some of these chambers are the size of this table, and others are the size of a small room. The pressure serves to saturate the tissues of the body, not only the hemoglobin in the blood, but the plasma, lymph and cerebral spinal fluid, all of which go many places that hemoglobin cannot reach, especially in cases of traumatic injury. The average treatment takes I to I Y, hours and Medicare reimburses at $75 per Y. hour of treatment, plus a $35 physician attendance fee.

Bob Moffitt, Director of Domestic Policy at the Heritage Foundation said, "Congress should authorize an intensive evaluation of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy with a view in order to determine its cost effectiveness and its contributions to high quality care." It is in the federal government's financial interest to do so. 

I know you have many conflicting priorities Mr. Chairman, and Ms. Pelosi has often said this committee's decisions often involve "the lambs eating the lambs." Unlike many who have testified before the committee, I am not here asking for more money, I'm here to save you money. In the words of one distinguished public health official, "zillions of dollars." This money could be used to fund other pressing priorities and even return some to the taxpayers.

Let me give you a few examples.

Forty percent of my practice is neurologically injured children. You would consider them IDEA children, who cost on average, 2.1 times as much to educate as a non-injured child. There are 6.548 million IDEA children in the nation, and this year the President has asked for a budget of $8.5 billion to pay for 18 percent of the obligations of the federal government to the states. These children are costing the state's educational system $47 billion, for a total of$55.7 billion. On average, nationally, they cost $8,510 more per year to educate than a "normal" child. Many cannot learn due to their injuries.  The therapy I am here discussing would cost an average, one time expenditure of between $7,000 and $14,000 for most children treated long after the injury, the cost of educating them for a year or two. The effects would be permanent and last throughout their lifetime. For many of these children, if they had been treated immediately upon injury, the costs drop to often less than $1,000. [Pages 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 15, 17]

Many of these children have neurological injuries that affect their motor skills, learning, speech, etc. They are children injured in birth trauma, accidents, child abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, maternal drug use, or other such events. Current practice deals with the brain that is still there and tries to re-train it. The therapy we are discussing has effectively recovered and rebuilt brain tissue through reactivation of stunned tissue, revascularizeation and, possibly, stimulation of adult stems cells in the brain to repair existing neural pathways and grow new ones.

Follow many of these children into adulthood, and you discover that many wind up in prison, on welfare, Social Security Disability, in long-term care facilities at state or insurance company expense or become a drain on the system in some other fashion.  Many of these children suffering from Mental Retardation or Developmental Disabilities, when they grow to adulthood, cost, on average, $43,000 per year in group home or institutional settings. (3.8 million, 59% under 17, 38% between 17 & 64) My hyperbaric medical practice has demonstrated that nearly all of these children can be helped, including many with genetic disorders, and many, many, can lead full, normal and productive lives. This is something current medical practices cannot provide for most of them. [Page 9]

I also serve as a prison physician, and can tell you that many prisoners suffer from a neurological injury incurred prior to incarceration and seizure disorders secondary to those injuries. The injury often drives their violent and irrational behavior. The Department of Justice has reported that up to 20% of the inmates report some type of mental impairment. In New Orleans, Louisiana we have a substantial number of our 7,500 inmates in our prison population with seizure disorders. Many ore have experienced head trauma. [Page 13]

Hyperbaric medicine significantly affects other areas of your committee. For example, in patients with diabetic foot wounds, hyperbaric oxygen has been shown to decrease major amputations by over 75%. There are currently 54,000 amputees on the Social Security Disability Income or SSI roles, at an average cost of$8,467 per year.  Many of these amputations could have been prevented through acute and chronic treatment of their medical condition with Hyperbaric Oxygen prior to amputation.  Congressman Istook's Deaconess Wound Care Center has less than a 1% amputation rate for those who receive Hyperbaric Treatment. CMS is deciding in 90 days whether amputations or treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen is more cost effective. All of the other major insurance companies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield already pay for diabetic wound treatment.

In addition, the latest JAMA article on heart by-pass surgery showed that 30% of those undergoing this procedure have residual brain damage, which could be largely solved by a single $225 Hyperbaric treatment. Further treatments applied under a surgical protocol could possibly heal patients between 25% and 50% faster, concurrently reducing costs to the insurance company, the government, malpractice insurance and physicians time and fees. The Navy has applied HBOT to fractures and returned many soldiers to duty who would have otherwise been discharged from service, saving the VA hundreds of thousands over the life of a veteran.

In the year 2000, the government spent 5.5 billion Medicare dollars on strokes, or $3,169 per patient, with little hope of full recovery. Hyperbaric medicine, especially acute treatment, cost effectively offers many such hope. Even chronic stroke patients can experience significant improvement in function and quality of life. [Pages II, 12]

Social Security disability currently has 61,500 brain injured people on the Disability or SSA roles at a cost of$8,459 per person per year. Many of these people could be returned to full and productive lives.

One of Mr. Istook's constituents is the first person to start the true return from early onset Alzheimer's disease. I know the Committee has great interest in this dread disease. (Page 7)

Let me illustrate what I'm talking about with real, live patients. I believe it will demonstrate what I am discussing today.

 

[Discussion of Slide Presentation Handout with SPECT Scans. Download the PDF Here]

 

Page 4: Acute & Chronic Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury & Coma - 19-year-old male

Page 5: Traumatic Brain Injury and Substance Abuse - 23 year old male

Page 6: Traumatic Brain Injury - 23 year old female

Page 7: Alzheimer's Disease - 58 year old male

Page 8: Physical Abuse & Rape - 21 year old female

Page 9: Mental Retardation - 44 year old male

Page 1 0: Cerebral Palsy - 8 year old male

Page 11: Stroke - 60 year old male

Page 12: Alcoholism and Stroke - 68 year old male

Page 13: Substance Abuse - 19 year old male

Page 14: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning- 51 year old female

Page 15: Shaken Baby- 6 month old female

Page 16: Gun Shot Wound to the Brain - 29 year old female

Page 17: Autism- 3 year old female

Page 18: Traumatic Brain Injury from Child Abuse - 48 year old male

 

I would encourage you to fully support Mr. Istook's Hyperbaric Oxygen Initiative language (attached), and encourage the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health Resources Services Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Social Security Administration and others to get the word out that $7 worth of oxygen, delivered at pressure, will save money, save lives, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans, and provide hope to many who live lives of quiet desperation.

 

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions the committee has.

 

 

 

Representative Ernest Istook, Report Language for National Institutes of Health,

FY 2003

Hyperbaric Oxygen Initiative

 

In accordance with report language from the Committee in previous years, the Office of the Director is encouraged to coordinate a hyperbaric Oxygen research initiative in coordination with the International Hyperbaric Medical Association, the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine, and the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.  The NIH is encouraged to work with these three groups to examine widespread use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for various manifestations of reperfusion injury, such as in organ transplantation, limb reattachment, and before and after surgical procedures involving tourniqueting of extremities: peripheral arterial bypass procedures, amputations, orthopedic procedures, plastic surgery procedures, flap and graft procedures, etc. Investigation of this treatment for hemorrhagic shock, multiple trauma injury and multiple trauma crush injury is also indicated based upon animal and clinical research already conducted. Such an initiative should also include the examination of the results of a single before and after hyperbaric treatment for surgery patients. The treatment of surgery patients in this manner could result in significant cost reductions and both long-term and short-term results should be examined.

In addition, the International Hyperbaric Medical Association has extensive expertise in the use of hyperbaric oxygen treatment for acute, subacute, and chronic brain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, toxic brain injury, brain injuries from substance abuse, air embolism, dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), carbon monoxide poisoning, pediatric neurological injury (which would include autism, cerebral palsy, and multiple other childhood neurological disorders), and the broad spectrum of neurological disease. The office of the director is encouraged to work with researchers from this association to explore the short- and long-term cost reduction impact of low pressure hyperbaric oxygen therapy for these chronic disabling neurological conditions.  In addition, the office of the director is requested to explore the cost-saving potential and improved efficiency of single hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments before and after cardiac surgery which involves heart-lung bypass, and hyper acute hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the entire group of brain injuries that follow global ischemia and anoxia and which are characterized by reperfusion injury. This group of brain injuries includes near drowning, near-banging, cardiac arrest, electrocution, suffocation, anesthesia anoxia, perinatal brain injuries (resuscitation at birth, birth apnea, etc.), and other acute brain injuries resulting from cessation and subsequent resumption of cerebral blood flow. The initiative should examine both the clinical applications of these methods and the underlying mechanisms of action taking place as a result of this inexpensive treatment.

The NIH Director is encouraged to coordinate this initiative across all the appropriate institutes. 

[Download the full Congressional Testimony PDF Here]

Veterans Day Good News: TBI and PTSD Treatment Shows Promising Results

Paul G. Harch, M.D. announces successful treatment of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) for Veterans using HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy).

 

New Orleans, LA November 08, 2012

Among Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are the leading causes of disability, labeled, "The signature wounds of the war on terror".

As a result of their experiences in both wars, soldiers often suffer from unbearable headaches, dizziness, depression, nightmares, and violent mood swings. Dr. Harch, a leading expert in emergency medicine and hyperbaric treatment, has pioneered brain injury research for over two decades. His credentials, studies, and reputation are known worldwide.

"We announce this Veteran's Day, that we have a promising treatment, utilizing scientific methods of precise dosage and protocol, that may permanently curtail TBI and PTSD symptoms, returning Veterans to a more normalized life," states Dr. Harch.

Top West Point graduate, Major Ben Richards, was a promising military leader until he got injured in battle. His story of HBOT efficacy just aired on CBS WWLTV, New Orleans, filed by Eyewitness News Reporter, Meg Farris.

Chad Battles, an Army E4 machine gunner specialist, says of his recent HBOT treatment with Dr. Harch, "I didn't know what to do. The VA tried, but couldn't relieve me of my sleepless nights, my recurring nightmares, loss of memory, and chronic headaches. I found Dr. Harch and he treated me pro bono. After 40 'dives', my memory came back, my headaches were gone, and I am able to sleep through the night. He basically gave me my life back!"

We announce this Veteran's Day, that we have a promising treatment, utilizing scientific methods of precise dosage and protocol, that may permanently curtail TBI and PTSD symptoms, returning veterans to a more normalized life, states Dr. Harch.

Following publication of the first case of HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) benefiting veterans with TBI and PTSD in 2009, Dr. Harch and colleagues published confirmatory evidence in January of this year in the prestigious peer-reviewed Journal of Neurotrauma.http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/neu.2011.1895

In September 2012, Dr. Harch's research team showed that the HBOT treatments generated improvements in depression and anxiety, PTSD, and memory that resulted in quality-of-life improvements for Veterans. The study further indicated, statistically, that a "chance explanation" for the improvements was less than "one in a quadrillion".http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/neu.2012.2608

The Department of Defense (DoD), the Veteran's Administration (VA), and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently pledged $100 million for further PTSD and TBI resarch and treatment, impacting over 550,000 brain injured veterans.

HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) was first used by the U.S. Navy for treatment of divers experiencing "the bends".

Here's how HBOT works: Increased air pressure forces oxygen into the fluids and tissues of the body, significantly augmenting the usual oxygen delivery system through the blood. This oxygen infusion can reach inaccessible, dormant cells, restoring their normal function. In addition, research has shown that HBOT increases the amount of stem cells released from one's bone marrow, healing the injury with new, healthy cells.

About Dr. Harch

Paul G. Harch, M.D. is the foremost leader in hyperbaric medicine. Dr. Harch leads the nation with his treatment of military veterans suffering with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Dr. Harch is world renown for his clinical research, dedication, and his specific protocols in treatment with oxygen. His bestselling book, "The Oxygen Revolution", published by Hatherleigh Press, demonstrates the remarkable and often overlooked life and quality-of-life healing potential provided by using oxygen as a drug. A drug to heal a variety of acute and chronic conditions. HIs testimony before the U.S. Congress has led to significant advances in hyperbaric medicine treatment.