IDF and VA Part Ways on Efficacy of HBOT in Treating PTSD

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Treating Veterans and Active Duty personnel suffering from TBI or PTSD with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (“HBOT”) has always been regarded as “black magic” by both the VA and the DoD.   In fact, earlier this year, the VA concluded their trial “study” with the following observations:

“To date, there have been nine peer-reviewed publications describing this research,” Dr. David Cifu, VA’s national director for physical medicine and rehabilitation recently told the Oklahoman. “All the research consistently supports that there is no evidence that hyperbaric oxygen has any therapeutic benefit for symptoms resulting from either mild TBI or PTSD.”

Conversely, the Israel Defense Forces (“IDF”) uses HBOT as a matter of course in treating personnel for traumatic shock.  Roughly 120 patients a day are treated at the The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research in Israel.    In fact, many U.S. military veterans are now seeking treatment at the Sagol Center since they cannot receive treatment from the VA.

Daniel Rona, who has fought with both the IDF and US military states that in Israel:

“In essence, our mental attitude is that we must take care of ourselves and through that process little Israel has become a blessing for the rest of the world…we treasure our soldiers, young and old. They are our only defenders….no one else will fight our battles. You can imagine that every concussive event will be treated with HBOT !” . . .“the policy of the IDF is that life has the highest value and they are committed to use any treatment, in any case, to save a life”.

It is hard to imagine that the VA and DoD don’t have the same commitment to the life and well-being of military Veterans as the IDF, but the facts suggest otherwise.

Should Vets Have Access to HBOT from the VA?

I suppose that the overriding question is how two nations at the forefront of international terrorism with state-of-the-art medical capabilities have widely different views on the efficacy of HBOT in treating Veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI.

Equally disturbing is the growth of HBOT treatment facilities in the United States which are attached to private clinics and hospitals.    In fact, HBOT is currently reimbursed under Medicare Part B for certain conditions.  It remains unclear whether this treatment is approved for reimbursement for Vets suffering from PTSD and TBI.

Despite VA and DoD “tests” to the contrary, there is an abundant of evidence worldwide that HBOT is effective in treating brain injury and restoring brain function by administering concentrated oxygen under controlled conditions.  To argue otherwise is just plain foolish and self-serving.

Many have argued that the adoption of HBOT in treating Veterans would cut into the earning of Big Pharma, who continue to insist (read lobby) for a cocktail of opioids and antipsychotic medication.    As a former military officer, I find it difficult to accept this premise; however, I now feel compelled to accept the obvious:  the VA procurement process and treatment of Veterans is seriously flawed and, perhaps, criminally negligent.

In my opinion, the only way to destigmatize the use of HBOT for treating Veterans is for the VA to approve reimbursement for Veterans seeking treatment outside of the VA.  Will this happen?  Probably not. I would argue that it is highly unlikely that Vets with receive HBOT given the entrenched position of Big Pharma within the FDA, VA and Federal government.

For those who need more evidence on the efficacy of HBOT, please listen to this very informative video clip by Maj. Ben Richards, a U.S. Military Academy graduate, who underwent the HBOT treatment with Dr. Paul Harch:

Can we deprive our Veterans of this effective and relatively inexpensive treatment? If the answer is “No,” then contact your Congressman and Senator demanding action.

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