The Heal the Warriors Program has been shown to improve:
- Cognitive processing
- Depression and anxiety
- Mobility, strength, and balance
- Quality of life
- Level of caregiver stress
The Program uses a multi-pronged approach to healing.
#1 Treat the actual injury to the brain
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Near Infrared Light Therapy are the two main treatment options to which Heal the Warriors provides access.
#2 Treat the symptoms of the injury
Counseling, strength and balance training, peer to peer discussions, acupuncture, massage, sensory deprivation float sessions, and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy are among some of the services in the HTW program.
#3 Treat the family caregiver
The effects of TBI ripple through families. HTW provide caregiving workshops and therapeutic services for family caregivers dealing with TBI.
How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Works for TBI
Some people believe that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a ‘new therapy’ being ‘tested’ for efficacy. That could not be further from the truth. HBOT was first used in 1662 by a British doctor who created an airtight chamber where the atmosphere could be adjusted using bellow and valves! That’s right… 1662 (before we discovered oxygen).
In the 1800’s hyperbaric chambers became popular in Europe. Paul Bert, a French engineer and doctor wrote about the psychological effects of air under increased and decreased pressure around 1872.
The first hyperbaric chamber was built in NY in 1891 by Dr. J. Leonard Corning. In 1928, Dr. Orval Cunningham opened the largest hyperbaric chamber in the world in Cleveland, OH.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy gained real recognition in the United States during the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, believe it or not. Workers diving deep beneath the river to lay the foundation for the bridge were traveling back to the surface and getting what we now call, “The Bends”. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy was introduced to help eliminate the bubbles in their blood and tissue that occurred from coming to the surface too quickly.
Simply put, HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) is safe and effective in treating many injuries and diseases. It consists of breathing 100% oxygen at a pressure greater than the ambient pressure. This one-two punch helps to:
- Deliver oxygen to the tissues in the body that are not receiving the oxygen they need to thrive (hypoxic tissue)
- This happens because, at pressure, oxygen is able to not only travel through the red blood cells, but through blood plasma, thus the healing oxygen can reach cells that are typically blocked from blood flow and oxygen due to illness, injury or disease.
- HBOT enables angiogenesis and neurovascularization (the creation of new blood vessels). These new blood vessels carry the oxygen to the injured tissue in the body and help the cells to heal at the mitochondria level.
- Additionally, hyperoxia helps to kill the “bad” bacteria
So, what does this all mean for TBI? Well, when the brain is injured, the tissue in the brain is damaged. The cells in the damaged tissue don’t get the oxygen they need and they stop working properly. This means that, in addition to the chemical changes that occur with brain injury, the pathways dependent upon those functioning cells become blocked. That causes the symptoms we see in mTBI like loss of memory, anxiety, loss of executive functioning, headaches, depression, inability to concentrate, and so on.
Giving the brain the oxygen it needs to heal helps those cells to function properly and helps the brain start functioning at a healthier level. As that happens, the symptoms of that injury begin to lessen.
HBOT is safe and effective and should almost always be used (as long as the patient has been cleared by a doctor well-versed in hyperbaric medicine) as a key component in a mTBI recovery plan.
Dr. Carol Henrick’s, who sits on the Heal the Warriors advisory board, explains military TBI and the effective use of HBOT
To explore additional research regarding HBOT for mTBI, click here.
How Near Infrared Light Therapy Works for TBI
Near Infrared Light Therapy helps to improve blood flow to the injured areas of the brain and kick start functionality at the cellular level. Here is the latest research in Near Infrared Light Therapy for mTBI.
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