The subject of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) has received a lot of media coverage recently as football players and other athletes, accident victims, and increasingly, our returning soldiers have all suffered. TBIs when left untreated can cause mental confusion, lack of cognitive ability, neurological decline and eventually lead to Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
Ray Crallé of Crallé Physical Therapy and ORCCA Hyperbarics in South Florida believes he has found a way to help returning soldiers who suffer from this problem. Though some are diagnosed with a clear brain injury, he's discovered that many cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are often under-diagnosed brain injuries.
Recent findings have indicated that repeated blast exposures, like those from IEDs and other such devices, can cause air bubbles in the vascular system, similar to those that occur in the "bends" after a bad scuba dive. This problem does not typically show up on an MRI so the brain injury goes unnoticed and the patient gets a PTSD diagnosis. However, when brain function is evaluated with a SPECT scan, the damage becomes apparent. In studies comparing SPECT scans before and after Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) the damage and subsequent improvement are obvious. According to Crallé, his patients clearly know the difference as well.
This video report by CBS4 Miami, The Invisible Wounds of War, tells the story.
Excerpt from The Invisible Wounds of War:
Antonio Mora, CBSW4 News: "A hyperbaric chamber is a pressurized enclosure where a patient spends time inhaling 100% oxygen."
Ray Crallé: "The presence of oxygen has a powerful role in how we heal."
Antonio Mora, CBSW4 News: "Ray Crallé... says the chambers dramatically increase the oxygen in tissue causing your body to release your own stem cells, accelerating healing. Crallé is convinced it can also heal brain trauma, an often undiagnosed problem."
Using hyperbaric oxygen to treat brain injuries and some other issues is typically not covered by insurance as it's not considered "standard of care." However, if more people advocate for it, this might change. Currently the Pentagon is conducting research on this treatment but it may be a while before it is available to everyone suffering from brain injuries.