Tulsa World - Alex Barros (left), who works with patients in the hyperbaric chamber, talks to Marv Sandbek, past commander of American Legion Post 259, on Wednesday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
The American Legion Post in Braman made a donation this week toward Oklahoma State University research into treatment for veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The OSU Center for Aerospace and Hyperbaric Medicine received $1,259. The money will go toward a study involving 200 veterans with a TBI, PTSD or both, said Johnny Stephens, assistant dean of research for the OSU Center for Health Sciences.
The veterans will do 40 treatments ? or dives ? in eight weeks and will then be assessed. If cognitive function and quality of life have improved, they will receive additional treatments, he said.
Some of the participants will get placebo treatments at first, but all will eventually receive the real treatment, he said.
American Legion officials were looking for something to do with the money from the post's second annual poppy fundraiser earlier this year. They wanted to ensure most of it went to help veterans and saw the hyperbaric chamber treatment on the news, said Rusty Partee, adjutant for the American Legion Post 259 in Braman, which is in northern Kay County.
"They're doing some real good work down there (at OSU)," he said. "It's very impressive."
Stephens said the treatments involve increasing pressure, which increases oxygen to the brain. Studies have shown that the treatment can help heal the brain.
Results have been mixed, but some patients have reported better memory and concentration after the treatments, he said.
"It's like the fog is lifted from their head," Stephens said.
The treatment lasts for 90 minutes, including 15 minutes to get to the proper pressure, 60 minutes spent at that level and another 15 to get back to normal pressure, he said.
The machinery at OSU can treat 14 patients at a time, he said.
This study will involve taking the patients to a lower level of pressure than has been tried in some studies. Too much oxygen to the brain can be a problem, Stephens said.
"There's not good, proven treatments for veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq that have post-traumatic stress syndrome or TBI," he said. "The VA does what they can, but none of those benefits or therapies necessarily are working extremely well, and we feel it's the right thing to do, to do this study to see if this could be the treatment that we need."