Arizona Governor Approves Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Veterans with TBI

Posted on June 14, 2019

Arizona governor Doug Ducey has signed into law a bill which will make veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) eligible for hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT in the state.

Arizona governor Doug Ducey has signed into law a bill which will make veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) able to use hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT in the state for treatment.

The bill was approved on March 29, 2018. Similar bills have been passed by other states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Indiana. $25,000 will be allotted by the State of Arizona to Healing Arizona Veterans, a non-profit organization that helps veterans suffering from significant brain damage.

Arizona Passes HBOT Treatment Bill for Veterans with TBI

According to TreatNOW, a veterans’ support group, more than 2,000 US army veterans have been treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Arizona bill is the first piece of legislation passed in any U.S. state to formally take a public-private partnership approach pertaining to hyperbaric oxygen therapy for veterans diagnosed with TBI and PTSD.

Sa’ad Allawi from Healing Arizona Veterans stated that this move proves that the state is committed to supporting it's veterans. Two multi-place hyperbaric chambers — accommodating six people each, the same size as ours at American Hyperbaric Center in Daphne, Alabama — in Cave Creek and Tucson will be used to treat veterans from Arizona.

“Speaking from a veteran’s perspective, there’s nothing more meaningful, nothing more powerful than getting your life back,” said Air Force veteran Robin O’Bannon, speaking of the positive outcomes of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBI or traumatic brain injury is one of the major off-label conditions treated by HBOT. There are several factors that can cause TBI. Infliction of a head wound by an external force, rapid deceleration or acceleration of the brain, internal bleeding in or around the brain, exposure of the brain to toxic substances which manage to pass through the brain barrier, or the lack of adequate oxygen supply for normal functioning of the brain can cause traumatic brain injury. The severity of TBI can vary from case to case, and the damage caused might be either temporary or permanent in nature. According to a 1984 study, around 1.5 million American citizens sustain traumatic brain injuries each year. A significant portion of these cases are severe and lead to death or long-term disability.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 153 people die every single day in the United States from TBI and other related injuries and about 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in the US are caused by TBI.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

HBOT helps to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes by enabling the patient to inhale pure oxygen while inside a hyperbaric chamber in a higher than normal air pressure environment (<1 atm). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) aims to cause hyperoxia (lots of oxygen) in the damaged tissues by allowing the additional oxygen to get dissolved in all the body fluids, the blood plasma, lymph fluid, central nervous system fluid, under the high air pressure. In other words, right now in room air we are breathing 21% oxygen. In a hyperbaric chamber, you breathe 100% oxygen. In addition to that, because of the increased pressure, the oxygen bubbles shrink in size so they can be absorbed in your tissues 134 times more than without the pressure. A typical HBOT session lasts anywhere between 90 to 120 minutes. However, the total number of sessions that an individual patient will require needs to be determined by a our licensed physician.

The Efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on Traumatic Brain Injury

When the soft tissues surrounding the brain sustain an injury, it might result in an infected, non-healing, or chronic wound. This might lead to local tissue hypoxia (not enough oxygen), which is a condition that prevents effective recuperation (healing). HBOT sessions help minimize the effects of local hypoxia while facilitating the formation of an essential element known as the collagen matrix. If not enough oxygen and blood are supplied to the brain, then it may even cause cells to die and then lead to acute brain injury. Both hypotension and hypoxia are individually linked to death in the case of acute brain injury.

The types of impairment and disability caused by TBI might range from the physical and functional to the social and emotional. In a 2003 study, a Technical Expert Advisory Group (TEAG) evaluated published and unpublished research conducted between 2001 and 2003, about the role of HBOT for the treatment of traumatic brain injury. During the examination, the researcher found that one randomized trial documented that hyperbaric oxygen therapy might reduce the duration of coma as well as the probability of death in patients suffering from traumatic brain injury.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been known to help improve damaged cognitive and neurological functions of the body after a traumatic brain injury without the need for surgery, prescribed drugs, or any other type of extra medication. Over 2,300 US veterans suffering from TBI have already been aided by HBOT, which improves the body’s natural defenses and facilitates organic recovery and healing.

A study conducted in 2009 found that TBI patients who received a higher supply of oxygen in the hyperbaric chamber experienced a corresponding — though not proportionate — enhancement in the rates of brain metabolism when compared to the control group. Another study of army veterans suffering from TBI, published in the year 2011, found that symptoms of the injury were significantly reduced after a month of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

In Conclusion

In recent years, HBOT has gained great popularity as an effective and natural method of treating traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Apart from Arizona, many other US states have also passed legislation supporting the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat army veterans who are living with TBI and/or PTSD.

We have been treating TBI and PTSD at American Hyperbaric Center for years. Our state-of-the-art multi-place chamber is the largest chamber in Alabama, Mississippi, and the local gulf coast.

If you know someone suffering from TBI or PTSD, give us a call at 251.210.1496.