Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

New Orleans-based doctors Paul Harch and Keith Van Meter are performing treatment on traumatic brain injury through hyperbaric oxygen.  A patient gets into a chamber that is pressurized to a level greater than the earth’s atmosphere, and then breathes 100 percent oxygen.  In Harch and Van Meter’s treatments, the patient undergoes a minimum of 40 one-hour treatments in the chamber. Through the combination of increased pressure and oxygen, the oxygen is dissolved into the liquid portion of the blood and becomes immediately available for use.  The oxygenated liquid blood is transported and diffused to all areas of the body.  “That rise in oxygen and pressure, and then removal of it, signals in some fashion … the 8,101 genes in our DNA to begin either elaborating proteins or shutting down bad genes,” Harch said. “The genes coded for cell death are shut off.”  The science itself has been difficult even for neurologists to understand, but the results from Harch and Van Meter’s prior research have been stunning.  Most of Harch and Van Meter’s research on treatment of traumatic brain injury through hyperbaric oxygen has centered on military veterans returning from combat.  Roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan have left a large number of servicemen dealing with precisely the type of injuries Harch and Van Meter are trying to heal.  According to a pilot trial conducted by Harch and Van Meter in 2011, “veterans achieved improvements in memory, concentration, executive function and quality of life and a reduction in headaches, concussion symptoms, depression and anxiety” with “an increase in IQ of 15 points.”  In each case, Harch and Van Meter found that single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) images, which provide a look at the inner workings of the brain, showed improved blood flow to the damaged areas.  Their findings are potentially revolutionary in the neurology field, which has traditionally looked at brain injuries as untreatable.  “There is some science here that’s really pretty special,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “Frankly, I think there’s a bunch of ways we could use it.  Certainly concussions are one.”–LSU, Miles seeking solutions to the concussion problem”, TigerRag.com 8/12/13, Luke Johnson.

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