How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Helped Military Man Recover from Head Injuries

Nicholas Jay Olson, a military man, suffered serious head injuries during his years at the Navy. However, if you follow him through his day in his hometown at Hot Springs, where he works at a Toyota Dealership, you would find it difficult to believe that Olson has struggled with several troublesome aftereffects of his military time.

Describing the symptoms he faced after leaving Navy in 2003, Olson said that he suffered from hypertension, headaches, lack of sleep, and many other things. He worked for about 5 years stateside and overseas, and suffered several serious head injuries during the time. Amazingly, he seems to be all put together.

Olson told that he used to memorize a 3-page long Beethoven piece within 30 minutes, and then play it using no sheet music. But after getting the head injuries, he couldn’t even remember his parents’ birthday dates, which he had been around for his 34 years.

Olson gives the credit for his recovery to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). Most people see the hyperbaric chambers as rooms that are used to save pilots and divers from decompression sickness.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a treatment in which an individual breathes 100% oxygen inside a body chamber known as hyperbaric chamber, where the atmospheric pressure is controlled and increased. HBOT improves the natural healing capacity of our body.

There is a hyperbaric chamber about a few miles from Olson’s home, but the military man needed to go to Denver for getting the help he was seeking. The reason behind this is related to what the local center had authorization to treat.

Dr. Robert Kleinhenz from a hyperbaric and wound care center said that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) heightens the oxygen within the fluid of the tissues. The therapy boosts the generation of new blood vessels, not necessarily at the time of treatment, but during the treatment and later.

Kleinhenz states that HBOT is a highly effective treatment for tissues damaged due to radiation treatments, diabetic wounds in feet, and conditions known as “death of a bone” as called by Dr. Kleinhenz.

The results of HBOT are documented for wounds like those. However, theoretically, the therapy should also be effective for hidden wounds caused by things such as head trauma.

However, Dr. Kleinhenz said that there is a lack of evidence-based data in this regard. HBOT seems to have potential in the treatment of traumatic brain injury. Nonetheless, we don’t have enough data to say that we can use the therapy. Since there is a lack of data, the government would not allow the use of the therapy. If government doesn’t permit the use of HBOT, the insurance plans such as Medicare or Tricare, or VA would not cover the expenses of the treatment. This leaves veterans like Olson only with the option of paying for the expenses of this expensive therapy out-of-pocket.

Instead, Olson was given a drug regimen. According to Olson — you are prescribed some medications, and 10 years later you don’t get any answers, even after being on all those medications.

However, several groups are challenging that. Many treatment centers are willing to apply off-label therapies and treat veterans suffering from head injuries. Such a center changed the life of Olson.