Hospital uses pressurized oxygen chamber to heal traumatic brain injuries in medical trial.
In the late 1980s, Marine Sgt. Jeff Brennan was training troops to rappel from a tower when he lost his grip and fell more than 50 feet.
“I bounced three times,” Brennan said, “from what everybody told me.”
Brennan was knocked unconscious, and he said his nose was shattered and the bones of his face were fractured.
The incident was his most dramatic — but not his only — brain injury. Brennan said he was concussed when an M84 stun grenade went off near his head in the Gulf War, and again when he came under mortar fire. He also lost consciousness while playing rugby and soccer for the Marine Corps.
“I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been knocked out,” he said.
The repeated injuries have left Brennan with short-term memory loss, poor balance, chronic fatigue, no feeling in his foot, 60 percent vision loss and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that gives him night terrors, anxiety and high blood pressure.
In the last 20 years, he has had 11 strokes, two heart attacks and was in a coma after complications from nasal surgery.
Brennan has lived with the debilitating effects of his injuries for more than two decades, without any improvement — until coming to Island Hospital’s Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Center in early October.
Hyperbaric technology is not approved by Medicare or major insurance companies to treat brain injuries, but that could change.
Brennan is part of a nationwide, clinically approved research trial. He met Dr. Xavier Figueroa, director of research at Restorix Research Institute in Redmond, almost by accident when Figueroa was a guest on a radio station where Brennan worked. Now Brennan is the face of Restorix’s push to recognize the benefits of the treatment for brain injuries.
Patients lay in the chambers as pure oxygen is forced in around them. The human body, and the brain, thrive on oxygen. The air we breathe is only about 20 percent oxygen. Breathing pure oxygen helps the body recover more quickly, and delivering it in a pressurized chamber compounds the benefits.
Brennan has taken just 25 treatments, but the vision in his left eye has grown steadily, he has less anxiety and is able to balance on one foot for the first time in 20 years. He uses less pain medication, and he no longer needs his blood pressure medication.
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