Arizona Legislature Approves Hyperbaric Oxygenation Treatment for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury, Reports the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

Tucson, Arizona, UNITED STATES

TUCSON, Ariz., April 02, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and selected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) conditions would be eligible to participate in hyperbaric oxygenation therapy (HBOT) under a bill approved unanimously in both houses of the Arizona legislature and signed by Governor Doug Ducey on Mar 29, reports the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, and Kentucky had previously passed similar legislation.

HB 2513 was sponsored by Rep. Mark Finchem, Republican, (LD-11, Oro Valley, Marana & Maricopa), Vice-Chairman of the Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee. “This bill is the culmination of 3-years of public comment and professional input to get our veterans access for a recuperative treatment that has delivered remarkable results but has thus-far not been paid for by the VA,” said Rep. Finchem.

HBOT involves breathing oxygen in a chamber pressurized at around 1.5 atmospheres. SCUBA divers are treated in such a chamber for decompression injuries. “Soldiers exposed to blast as from an improvised explosive device (IED) experience a rapid compression/decompression,” explains AAPS executive director Jane M. Orient, M.D. “They may have significant brain damage even without loss of consciousness, apparent head injury, or visible abnormality on standard imaging studies.”

HBOT has been used to treat concussion in athletes since the 1960s, she adds.

About 2,300 U.S. veterans have been treated for TBI with HBOT, according to the veterans’ support group TreatNOW. There are about 800,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans or active service members suffering from concussion/TBI/PTSD, the group states.

The Arizona bill is the first to formally take a private-public partnership approach, said Sa’ad Allawi, an Oro Valley resident who helped spearhead the drive.

The bill provides a temporary appropriation of just $25,000 in seed money to what supporters call a “private-sector driven” initiative. A full treatment cycle of 80 hours at $150 per session means a cost of $12,000 per veteran. Healing Arizona Veterans (HAV), a nonprofit organization, is seeking contributions. 

Arizona has two private stand-alone HBOT facilities, according to Allawi: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy of Arizona, in Phoenix, which has been in business for 18 years, and NorthStar Hyperbarics, in Tucson, in existence for 14 years.

AAPS member Carol Henricks, M.D., of NorthStar, has presented her experience at national meetings, including AAPS and Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943.

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716
(800) 635-1196

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