Veterans study reports reduction in suicide ideation after HBOT

October 19, 2017, Louisiana State University
Credit: Louisiana State University

A pilot case control study of veterans of the US armed forces with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or persistent post-concussion syndrome (PPCS), with or without post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has found significant improvements in persistent post-concussion syndrome and PTSD symptoms, neurological exam, memory, intelligence quotient, attention, cognition, depression, anxiety, quality of life, and brain blood flow following hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Compared to controls, the patients' brain scans were significantly abnormal before treatment and became statistically indistinguishable from controls in 75% of abnormal areas after treatment.

"Simultaneously and most importantly, subjects experienced a significant reduction in suicidal ideation and anxiety, possibly the most significant finding in the study given the current veteran suicide epidemic," notes Dr. Paul Harch, Clinical Professor and Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. "The PTSD symptom reduction is one of the greatest reductions in PTSD symptoms in a four-week period with any reported , and combined with the effect on PPCS outcomes, HBOT represents the only reported effective treatment for the combined diagnoses of blast-induced PPCS and PTSD."

The improvements, including a discontinuation or decreased dosage of psychoactive medications, continued to increase over the six-month post-treatment period. Dr. Harch and Dr. Edward Fogarty, Chair of Radiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, led the research. The study is published in the current issue of the journal Medical Gas Research, available here.

"Mild , persistent post-concussion syndrome and are epidemic in United States Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans," adds Dr. Fogarty. "The only effective treatment of the combined diagnoses that is available and well studied is via these chambers - this is not solely a biochemical intervention. Gas pressure physics impacts neurobiology beyond simple oxygen chemistry"

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the use of increased atmospheric pressure and increased oxygen levels as drugs to treat disease by turning genes on and off. Treatment effects are a function of dose and timing of intervention in the disease process.

Thirty active-duty or retired military service men and women 18 to 65 years of age with one or more mild-to-moderate blast TBIs characterized by loss of consciousness that were a minimum of one year old and occurred after 9/11 participated in the study. They were matched to a control group. HBOT was performed in monoplace hyperbaric chambers on a protocol the investigators developed in 1989. Patients were compressed and decompressed at 1-2 pounds per square inch per minute on 100% oxygen for 60 minutes total dive time, twice a day with a 3-4 hour surface interval five days a week for 40 HBOTs.

After HBOT, 52% of no longer met the threshold criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD. Ten of the 12 patients who expressed suicidal ideation prior to the HBOT did not express suicidal thoughts after treatment. One patient with anxiety who required an emergency department visit for increased anxiety had increased after treatment. Of the patients who indicated significant anxiety before treatment, 75% were no longer anxious after treatment. The patients' abnormal pattern became nearly indistinguishable from the controls after HBOT treatment.

Six patients experienced mild reversible middle ear injury due to pressure change, five of whom at the start of upper respiratory infections. Seven patients experienced transient deterioration is some symptoms that resolved over the next 4-6 HOBTs. Two patients had anxiety associated with exacerbation of PTSD that was treated with medication. Eleven patients experienced protocol breaks due to unrelated adverse events but 10 of them finished the protocol. The researchers conclude that this 30-day course of 40 HBOT treatments was safe with no persistent adverse events.

A 2008 Rand Report estimates that 300,000 (18.3%) of 1.64 million military service members who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan war zones have PTSD or major depression, and 320,000 (19.5%) have experienced a TBI. Overall, approximately 546,000 have one of the three diagnoses, and 82,000 have symptoms of all three.

"Dr. Paul Harch, for the past three and a half decades, has meticulously researched and published quality laboratory and clinical research about the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen in treatment of sub- acute and chronic TBI, convincingly demonstrating its efficacy by favorable outcomes with careful statistical substantiation of his findings," says Dr. Keith Van Meter, Clinical Professor and Chief of Emergency Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. "He has added to his quality team of researchers, and their steadfast persistence has achieved these remarkable results."

Explore further: O2 and hyperbaric oxygen therapy reverses brain damage in drowned toddler

Related Stories

O2 and hyperbaric oxygen therapy reverses brain damage in drowned toddler

July 17, 2017
Dr. Paul Harch, Clinical Professor and Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, and Dr. Edward Fogarty, at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, report the case of the reversal ...

Rx with hyperbaric oxygen improved TBI and PTSD in vets

November 28, 2011
Research led by Dr. Paul Harch, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has found that treatment with hyperbaric oxygen nearly three years after injury significantly improved function ...

PTSD may be physical and not only psychological

July 11, 2017
The part of the brain that helps control emotion may be larger in people who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after brain injury compared to those with a brain injury without PTSD, according to a study released ...

Hyperbaric oxygen Tx beneficial for systemic sclerosis ulcers

March 17, 2017
(HealthDay)—Adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may be beneficial for treatment of systemic sclerosis (SSc) ulcers, according to a report published online Feb. 23 in the International Journal of Dermatology.

Hyperbaric O2 therapy effective in maxillary osteoradionecrosis

September 26, 2016
(HealthDay)—Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) seems efficacious for patients with maxillary bone osteoradionecrosis (ORN), according to research published online Sept. 19 in Head & Neck.

New hope for victims of traumatic brain injury

November 18, 2013
Every year, nearly two million people in the United States suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI), the leading cause of brain damage and permanent disabilities that include motor dysfunction, psychological disorders, and memory ...

Recommended for you

College students choose smartphones over food

November 16, 2018
University at Buffalo researchers have found that college students prefer food deprivation over smartphone deprivation, according to results from a paper in Addictive Behaviors.

Study finds mindfulness apps can improve mental health

November 15, 2018
A University of Otago study has found that using mindfulness meditation applications (apps) on phones is associated with improvements in people's mental health.

Social media is affecting the way we view our bodies—and not in a good way

November 15, 2018
Young women who actively engage with social media images of friends who they think are more attractive than themselves report feeling worse about their own appearance afterward, a York University study shows.

New research has revealed we are actually better at remembering names than faces

November 14, 2018
With the Christmas party season fast approaching, there will be plenty of opportunity to re-live the familiar, and excruciatingly-awkward, social situation of not being able to remember an acquaintance's name.

Older adults' abstract reasoning ability predicts depressive symptoms over time

November 14, 2018
Age-related declines in abstract reasoning ability predict increasing depressive symptoms in subsequent years, according to data from a longitudinal study of older adults in Scotland. The research is published in Psychological ...

The illusion of multitasking boosts performance

November 13, 2018
Our ability to do things well suffers when we try to complete several tasks at once, but a series of experiments suggests that merely believing that we're multitasking may boost our performance by making us more engaged in ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet Oct 20, 2017
It is my understanding that frontline troops are less likely to suffer PTSD and suicidal ideation that support troops in the war zone...despite the accompanying image...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.