Legionnaire praises USA Veterans Association decision to allow hyperbaric oxygen treatment
A recent Department of Veterans Affairs decision to begin offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to some veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder has drawn praise from the chairman of The American Legion’s PTSD/TBI Ad Hoc Committee.
In a Nov. 29 statement, VA announced that HBOT therapies will be supervised by a physician, and that both VA and the Department of Defense are planning additional research to study HBOT’s effectiveness.
In a statement, VA Secretary David Shulkin said that his agency must “explore every avenue” and “be open to new ideas. There is nothing more important to us than caring for our nation’s veterans, and that care must include finding different approaches that work best for them.”
American Legion Past National Commander Bill Detweiler, chairman of the Legion’s PTSD/TBI committee, noted that the Legion has “urged the VA for years to allow the use of HBOT to treat veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries and/or post-traumatic stress. Using oxygen as a drug has been proven to be successful for many veterans, members of the military and professional football players. It's another tool in the physician's tool box.”
HBOT has been federally approved to treat such conditions as decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, and to treat wounds that won’t heal because patients are undergoing radiation or have diabetes. Though it’s been studied – 32 times between 2005 and 2015, according to a Government Accountability Office – HBOT hasn’t officially been proven to work for traumatic brain injury or PTSD.
But in November 2011, The American Legion Magazine featured a story on how HBOT was helping two veterans injured by IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. One of those, Ret. Army Sgt. Tim Hecker, shared that, “By the fourth treatment, I started feeling like a new person. I was more aware. I could see things. The deeper I got into the treatments, my cognition started to come back - my motor skills and my balance. My vision started to improve. The biggest benefit was my emotional control."