Hyperbaric Oxygen: What the VA Doesn’t Want You To Know

The gatekeepers at the Department of Veteran Affairs (the “VA”) remain intransigent in providing urgently need care to Veterans suffering from PTSD and/or TBI. Standard Operating Procedure (“SOP”) at the VA is to argue that FDA-approved clinical studies are needed to sanction treatment methods – regardless if these treatment alternatives have been used with success in many other countries for decades and, in some cases, hundreds of years.  

hyperbaric oxygen and the VA

Instead, the VA serves our Veterans a cocktail of potentially lethal prescription drugs that do carry the FDA’s “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”   How is this possible when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) reports  an epidemic in addiction to prescription drugs?

Unfortunately, the VA’s SOP in prescribing these opioids to Veterans with PTSD and TBI hasn’t changed in many years.   Why?  Could it be that the benefits to Big Pharma outweigh the benefits of providing our Veterans with the treatment they merit?   I am most hesitant to ask this question, but I can think of no other explanation.

For instance, treating head injuries with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (“HBOT”) has been around for decades.  It is the standard procedure provided to wounded soldiers and civilians with head injuries by the Israeli medical profession for decades.

This short video below is in Hebrew with English subtitles, but it provides a very compelling argument why our Veterans should have access NOW to HBOT while the bureaucrats and FDA twiddle their thumbs and continue to ingratiate themselves with Big Pharma lobbyists.

Gordon Brown  of Team Veteran argues that  “We need this type treatment in our VA and military hospitals instead of the DRUG therapy they are now using. Most TBI cases have been misdiagnosed as PTSD and drug treatment cause further complications for our veterans.”   Gordon’s views reflect my own and those of hundreds if not thousands of Veterans.

In fact, some hospitals in the private sector are taking radical steps to curtail the use of opioids in treating pain.  In an recent New York Times article, St. Joe’s hospital is implementing wide-ranging changes to comply with CDC recommendations:

“St. Joe’s is on the leading edge,” said Dr. Lewis S. Nelson, a professor of emergency medicine at New York University School of Medicine, who sat on a panel that recommended recent opioid guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But that involved a commitment to changing their entire culture.”

In doing so, St. Joe’s is taking on a challenge that is even more daunting than teaching new protocols to 79 doctors and 150 nurses. It must shake loose a longstanding conviction that opioids are the fastest, most surefire response to pain, an attitude held tightly not only by emergency department personnel, but by patients, too.

Is it too much for that lumbering behemoth VA to show the same sense of urgency?

I suppose we can continue to get distracted with the many other “big” issues facing our country, but providing our Veterans with proper therapy is one issue where Americans can easily unite.  Let’s not let the bottom line of Big Pharma distract us from that mission.  The brave men and women who have served our country deserve no less.

Latest Developments on Treating PTSD

Much has been written about the terrible long-term consequences of Post Traumatic Stress or “PTSD,” but there appears to be no clear way of treating PTSD.  Some argue that PTSD is best treated using “psychological” methods to treat the trauma while others argue that certain war-related events (i.e. IEDs) cause physiological changes in the brain.

treating ptsd

This dilemma makes diagnosing and treating PTSD so difficult.  Based on SFTT’s experiences, we have found that Veterans with symptoms of PTSD respond differently to various forms of therapy.   In short, there seems to be no definitive solution to a very serious problem which is now reaching epidemic proportions.

In a recent article published in the New York Times, medical scientists now believe that traumatic war-related events may actually cause physiological changes in the brain.

Quoting Dr. Daniel P. Perl, a neuropathologist who led a study for Lancent Neurology, evidence now exists that changes brain patterns:

Less understood is how the blast wave — the pulse of compressed air that shoots in all directions faster than the speed of sound and arrives before the wind — affects brain tissue after crashing through the helmet and skull. Blasts are also believed to compress the sternum and send shock waves through the body’s blood vessels and up into the brain. . .

The researchers examined the brains of the five veterans who had been exposed to blasts, and compared samples with those of 16 other veterans and civilians with and without brain injuries from military service or other activities. Scar tissue in specific locations of the cerebral cortex, which regulates emotional and cognitive functioning, was found only in the blast-injury cases.

Dr Perl and fellow researchers discovered the following changes in the brain following concussion like events:

Perl and his lab colleagues recognized that the injury that they were looking at was nothing like concussion. The hallmark of C.T.E. is an abnormal protein called tau, which builds up, usually over years, throughout the cerebral cortex but especially in the temporal lobes, visible across the stained tissue like brown mold. What they found in these traumatic-brain-injury cases was totally different: a dust-like scarring, often at the border between gray matter (where synapses reside) and the white matter that interconnects it. Over the following months, Perl and his team examined several more brains of service members who died well after their blast exposure, including a highly decorated Special Operations Forces soldier who committed suicide. All of them had the same pattern of scarring in the same places, which appeared to correspond to the brain’s centers for sleep, cognition and other classic brain-injury trouble spots.

Then came an even more surprising discovery. They examined the brains of two veterans who died just days after their blast exposure and found embryonic versions of the same injury, in the same areas, and the development of the injuries seemed to match the time elapsed since the blast event. Perl and his team then compared the damaged brains with those of people who suffered ordinary concussions and others who had drug addictions (which can also cause visible brain changes) and a final group with no injuries at all. No one in these post-mortem control groups had the brown-dust pattern.

Dr. Perl on Treating PTSD

While it will takes years of analysis and research to determine whether these neurological changes can be reversed, many Veterans will continue to suffer the “invisible wounds of war.”  Dr. Perl is justifiably worried:

 After five years of working with the military, he (Dr. Perl) feels sure, he told me (author Robert Worth), that many blast injuries have not been identified. “We could be talking many thousands,” he (Perl) said. “And what scares me is that what we’re seeing now might just be the first round. If they survive the initial injuries, many of them may develop C.T.E. years or decades later.”

This is not hopeful news, but at least we as a society are beginning to take PTSD seriously.  Hopefully, we will not try and bury the research in the way the NFL has sought to hide the effects of CTE on NFL players and downplay its significance to football fans who seem addicted to the violence of the spectacle.

SFTT News: Week of June 10, 2016

Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage our readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Tricare Fraud
A reported Tricare scheme in which users’ DNA was collected in exchange for gift cards and used to order expensive, unneeded lab tests could be the latest example of Tricare fraud — and a lesson in why beneficiaries should not give out their ID card or Social Security numbers in exchange for payment. A salesman working with a Texas-based laboratory that conducts genetic and drug screening enticed service members to be screened for a variety of illnesses and drugs by setting up makeshift clinics at strip malls near Fort Hood, Texas,   Read more . . .

New Combat Boots for Marines?
The Marine Corps is counting on honest feedback from troops who will wear and test four different tropical combat boot prototypes this summer at the Marines’ Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan.  Officials with Marine Corps Systems Command told Military.com that about 400 Marines from the Hawaii-based 3rd Marine Regiment would test out the boots during a two-to-three week period of jungle combat training that will start within the next two months.  Read more . . .

motorcycle

Stealth Motorcycles for US Special Forces
Earlier this week, at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, two prototype stealth bikes were on full display. One bike — The Silent Hawk — was developed by Logos while the other bike –dubbed Nightmare — was developed by LSA Autonomy. Not surprisingly, both are hybrid bikes. The Silent Hawk in particular weighs 350 pounds, has a range of 170 miles, can reach a top speed of 80 mph and can store as much as 75 pounds of equipment. More importantly, when the bike is in “quiet mode”, the noise it emits is less than 55 decibels, which is to say about as loud as a normal conversation.  Read more . . .

VA Reform In the Air?:  Private Healthcare for Veterans
A Washington state lawmaker has proposed placing all Veterans Affairs Department medical facilities under a nonprofit entity and giving all new veterans access to private health care. Under the plan, current enrolled veterans would be able to choose where they get care while all new veterans would be automatically enrolled in the new VetsCare Choice, giving them access to private health care. Read more . . .

Russia Could Overrun Nato Forces in 60 Hours
RUSSIA could steamroll NATO forces in just 60 hours, a leading US defense official has warned amid rising tensions with the west. The alarming claim comes as Russia has deployed troops westward as part of its ongoing stand-off with NATO. US Deputy assistant secretary of defence for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Michael Carpenter told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the West and NATO were currently not ideally prepared to deal with a Russian threat.  Read more . . .

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid

 

President Obama Gives More Authority to Target Taliban
President Obama has given U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan new authority to target the Taliban. Pentagon officials say the president is authorizing commanders to order airstrikes to support major Afghan offensives, NPR national security editor Phil Ewing reports, adding that the airstrikes must be “the deciding factor” in helping an offensive succeed.  Read more . . .

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