In a carefully crafted message, “The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week that it would begin offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy (“HBOT”) to some veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, despite a lack of evidence that it works or being approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for PTSD.”
The news was released by “Stars and Stripes” on November 30 in an article titled “VA to offer unproven hyperbaric oxygen therapy to vets with PTSD.”
The article is hardly a ringing endorsement of HBOT. More to the point, Secretary Shulkin reportedly said on Wednesday that “the VA must ‘explore every avenue’ and ‘be open to new ideas.’”
Well, HBOT may be “new” to the VA, but this therapy has been around for decades and is used successfully around the world to treat patients with brain trauma. The VA stigma exists because Dr. David Cifu and many other bureaucrats within the VA continue to push a stale agenda of ineffective and often dangerous therapies that don’t work.
In fact, this is one of the major reasons that Veterans with PTSD and TBI have sought treatment outside the VA. Talking heads at the VA would like Veterans and the public to believe that HBOT is “snake oil,” but there is a long and detailed clinical trail of evidence that suggests otherwise.
Arguing that HBOT is “not FDA or DoD approved” rings a bit hollow after the President’s Report on Fighting Drug Addiction and Opioid Abuse states that “the modern opioid crisis originated within the healthcare system.”
Let’s face it: What do you do when evidence-based medicine is proved wrong? Well, in this case, the Federal government will provide “the healthcare system” with billions of taxpayer dollars to fix the mess they largely created. Sounds absurd, but you don’t even have to read the small print.
While SFTT is thrilled that Dr. Shulkin has decided to part ways with the orthodoxy of failed VA therapies to treat Veterans with PTSD, it will be years before all Veterans will receive the lifesaving benefits of HBOT. Furthermore, it is likely that the VA and DoD will again manipulate test protocols to produce treatment outcomes that produce inconclusive results.
Will HBOT work in all cases? Of course not, but life-changing outcomes are far more likely with HBOT than the only two failed programs currently offered by the VA:
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy (“PE”) and,
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (“CPT”)
In any event, we hope that doctors within the VA system will not be so dismissive of HBOT that it leads to another Veteran suicide like Eric Bivins. For those who want a first-hand look into the travesty of the VA system, follow this painful trail of systemic abuse by Eric’s widowed spouse, Kimi.
Our brave Veterans deserve more and SFTT would like to thank Secretary Shulkin for taking this important first step.