Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), once reserved mostly for celebrities and athletes, may become an option for helping military veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if Congressman Ken Buck of Greeley and others get their way.
Buck and two other Republican lawmakers, Pete Sessions of Texas and Walter Jones of North Carolina, have been working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to allow veterans access to HBOT.
The therapy entails being placed in a hard-sided sealed chamber. Air pressure is then increased to three times its normal level, which forces the lungs to circulate more oxygen through the body.
Former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is said to be a devotee, as is Michael Phelps, the multi-gold medal-winning Olympian. HBOT is FDA regulated and used to treat infections that won’t heal, vision loss, sudden deafness, anemia, ADHD and autism.
Buck cheered the VA’s decision to begin offering HBOT to veterans, stating that he is “convinced that America’s heroes deserve HBOT therapy as an option in treating their injuries. I look forward to continuing our work with the VA and Congress to ensure that this important therapy is utilized to its full capacity.”
In November, according to a statement from Buck’s congressional office, two VA facilities began partnering with local providers to offer HBOT to veterans suffering from PTSD and for whom standard therapies had been ineffective. The VA and the Department of Defense are also planning to conduct a research study on the use of HBOT in PTSD cases.
The VA last studied HBOT for treating concussions in 2015, but found its use less than promising for those injuries.
Army veteran Katie Paterson is a believer in the value of HBOT to treat PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries. She suffered two brain injuries from blasts while she was in the Army, one during training in the United States and a second in Kuwait. After years of drugs that didn’t help, in 2013, she traveled to the Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Institute in Louisville to begin HBOT.
Paterson told Indiana Public Media that the results were nearly instantaneous — her short-term memory improved, and she regained peripheral vision lost when her brain was injured.
“To see the results from pre-HBOT, I had the memory and IQ scale of like an eight-year-old,” Patterson said.
A psychologist who had been treating Patterson both pre- and post-HBOT said initial results showed Patterson gained a “higher than normal ability to retain” information after her treatments.