The modern age of hyperbaric medicine began in 1937; however, today few know about hyperbaric oxygen’s effects on the body and medical conditions outside of diving medicine and wound care centers – a serious ethical issue as there are 20 US military veterans committing suicide every day directly related to Traumatic Brain Injury/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The problem is not whether hyperbaric oxygen is effective for treating brain injuries, but why the interference in offering this therapy to those who need it.
Up against black-boxed anti-depressants that are not efficacious, it should be a “no-brainer” to use a safe, off-label drug, but in the case of military veterans, every suicide might be seen as a tremendous cost saving to certain technocrats. The unspoken rationale is that if the military were to embrace hyperbaric oxygen as the efficacious therapy that it is then current active troops that have suffered injuries will come forward and seek treatment and benefits for their Traumatic Brain Injuries now that they know there is a viable therapy and in so doing troop strength will be decimated. So, to attempt to delay the acceptance of hyperbaric oxygen the Department of Defense has funded faux-studies claiming low pressure room air to be a placebo or sham, and then proclaiming there is no statistical difference between treatment arms and sham or placebo treatment arms. With few who understand hyperbaric medicine there is almost no one to call them on this subterfuge and prevarication. Many peer-reviewed articles have been published in the last decade that demonstrate hyperbaric oxygen is effective in repairing an injured brain even long after that injury took place. One of the most notable showed that blast-induced brain injured war veterans experienced a 15 point IQ increase (p < 0.001).
Hyperbaric oxygen is an efficacious, benign and humanitarian way to affect brain repair but it has not been adopted because it lacks patent protection and has no large corporate sponsors. It has also met interference because other agendas are present be they the protection of the status quo, myopic budgetary constraints, or perceived liability issues.
Stoller, K.P. All the right moves: the need for the timely use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for treating TBI/CTE/PTSD. Med Gas Res 5, 7 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13618-015-0028-0