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Some football players turning to hyperbaric oxygen treatment for concussion

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It's playoff time for high school football and players across Texoma are battling to keep their seasons alive, but some players across the country are facing an entirely different fight. They're battling against concussions.

New research from the Institute of Medicine shows high school football players are nearly twice as likely to get concussions as college players and high school athletes in other sports.

"It's just something that happens unfortunately," Pottsboro High School Head Football Coach Matt Poe said. "We had a couple last year and we went through the concussion protocol and the return to play protocol. There are steps that you have to take when that does occur."

One growing trend in treatment for athletes suffering from head trauma is the use of hyperbaric oxygen tanks. They are glass cylinders that deliver high pressure oxygen, helping to stimulate hormonal growth and repairing tissue damage. "With a lot of these concussions, the fear is what kind of chronic damage has been done to the brain and if the brain has damage can oxygen heal it," said Texoma Medical Center's Dr. Tram Hill.

Dr. Hill is a wound care specialist who uses the machine for treating wounds.

"Patients do very well with the treatment," Dr. Hill said. "Their whole body is submerged into a tank and we oxygenate them. It's a tube that you can see through, so patients don't feel claustrophobic. They're breathing in 100% oxygen which will allow for their whole body to get oxygenated to increase blood flow. After so many treatments, they'll start building new blood vessels and those blood vessels supply the tissue which helps them to heal."

While she hasn't used the treatment for concussions, she said she believes it could be beneficial based on results she's seen from dealing with wounded patients who also suffered from loss of brain function.

"Do I believe it can help these patients?" Dr. Hill said. "Yes. We've seen patients who have gone into the chambers for open wounds that had dementia and we've seen a huge change in them."

Since the treatment for concussions is still in the experimental stage, Dr. Hill said right now, she's not aware of any insurance companies that cover it. However, she said in the future that could change once more research is done.

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