Oxygen Therapy for trauma, PTSD, and TBI

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy improves lives of vets with Trauma and PTSD.

The Journal of Neurotrauma reports that treatment with hyperbaric oxygen significantly improved the quality of life for veterans with trauma, PTSD, and TBI. This treatment was given to vets nearly three years after their injuries were sustained according to research led by Dr. Paul Harch at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans.

trauma, PTSD, TBI, healing from trauma, PTSD treatment, combat vets, vetsSixteen veterans who had been injured in Iraq and diagnosed with mild TBI and PTSD were enrolled in the pilot study. They received 40 treatments (60-minutes each) of low-dose hyperbaric oxygen therapy over a 30-day period.

Tests following the treatments showed significant improvements in symptoms: 92% improvement in short-term memory problems; 87% relief from headaches; 93% gain in cognitive difficulties; 75% improvement with sleep issues; and 93% reported relief fro, depression. The vets also showed improvements in anger, mood swings, impulse control, blood flow in the brain, and a reduction in suicidal thoughts. 64% of those were also able to eliminate all their prescription drug intake.

TBI, PCS (resulting from blasts) and PTSD are a problem with servicemen and women returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Out of 1.64 million military service members who have been deployed:

  • 300,000 (18.3%) have PTSD or major depression.
  • 320,000 (19.5%) have experienced a TBI.
  • 546,000 have TBI, PCS, or PTSD
  • 82,000 have symptoms of all three.

It’s postulated that the oxygen-rich environment produced in the brain during a treatment stimulates the growth of new neurons and neural pathways. Further research is necessary.

Currently, the established treatment for trauma and PTSD includes a combination of counseling, psychoactive drugs, and adaptive strategies. Unfortunately, the counseling usually involves outdated or marginally effective forms of therapy, such as Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and EMDR–all of which have a high tendency to retraumatize the vets.

The results of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are impressive given the treatments were started 3 years after the traumatic events. However, the treatments are long and expensive–cost-prohibitive to those outside the VA system and geographically unavailable to many of those within the VA.

Until further testing is done, the best treatment for trauma and PTSD remains Somatic Experiencing and other somatic-based techniques. These also produce stunning results without the risk of retraumatization.

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One Response to Oxygen Therapy for trauma, PTSD, and TBI

  1. bruce pedersen says:

    I have passed along your article to my fellow members in AA. I have neuron difficulty from drinking excessive alcohol. I discovered scuba diving was beneficial to recovery! I recently wrote an article for an AA publication called ” The Grapevine” where I described the benefits of scuba diving and healing the brain! Can I refer you to the Grapevine Editorial Staff ?
    Thank you.

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