MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Service members who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries may have a new treatment called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy increases the amount of oxygen in your red blood cells and the tissue in your body, which may change the way the body heals.
“When you are just breathing air you’re breathing about 21 percent oxygen, by breathing 100 percent oxygen and adding the pressure it may change how the body heals the mind,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Lesley the staff neurologist for the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.
To undergo the treatment, an injured service member must first pass a physical to make sure he or she doesn’t have any inner ear problems or other illness keeping the them from benefiting from the process.
After passing the physical, the service member can begin Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Dr. Lesley said the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital’s Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy consists of 40 sessions throughout a 12-week time period.
Each session consists of the patient entering either a monoplace chamber, a one person chamber, or a multiplace chamber, a multiple person chamber, where the pressure increases slowly to an equivalent of 17 feet underwater.
Then either the chamber is filled with 100 percent oxygen, or an individual patient wears a mask filled with oxygen. The oxygen and pressure stimulates the body’s red blood cells and tissues which could change the body’s healing process. After the session is complete, the patient is brought back to the pressure of sea level.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has not officially been proved as a therapy for PTSD or TBI, said Dr. Lindell K. Weaver, the study director of hyperbaric medicine and mild TBI.
However, it has been proven to help with bone infections, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, radiation wounds, decompression illness and skin grafts.
Currently, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is being tested and is in the approval process by the Federal Drug Administration for treatment for PTSD and TBIs.
“Whether the therapy is proven to help PTSD and TBIs or disproven, the results will help service members,” said Lesley. “There are service members who pay out of pocket for this treatment out in town. If we can prove it works, then we can provide the treatment; if it doesn’t work, then we can save service members their money.”
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