Brain injury is one common result of many car crashes in Los Angeles. Some traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims never fully recover from its effects. It is easy to understand why many people living with a TBI may try a controversial treatment that supporters say works miracles, but has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Bariatric chambers have long been approved for use in treating the bends, or the effects of ascending too fast from deep in the ocean. Some readers may also know that the FDA has okayed its use for healing some wounds, including those related to diabetes, radiation therapy, carbon monoxide poisoning and some burns.

The treatment involves having the patient lie in a chamber, where they are exposed to 100 percent oxygen that is highly pressurized. Some doctors and TBI patients say this treatment relieves symptoms, and may reduce depression and suicide among veterans.

The Defense Department is testing various new treatments for TBI. However, it appears that it does not believe that bariatric chambers make any difference. A professor, who leads the physical medicine and rehabilitation program for the Veterans Health Administration cited his own studies suggesting that there is no difference between the treatment and a placebo. He said that believing they were getting treatment produced as much benefit for those not getting pure oxygen as those who did get the regular treatment.

It is understandable why a frustrated and desperate person dealing with a brain injury would be willing to try anything to get better. But patients should be careful that there is evidence that a new treatment is safe and effective.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, “HEALTH: Brain injury treatments questioned,” Mark Muckenfuss, March 21, 2014