Excerpt of an article by Mark Muckenfuss
Alan Burghard is convinced that his life was changed by a little bit of extra pressure.
Burghard, 55, of Huntington Beach, says that hyperbaric oxygen treatments — in which patients are exposed to a 100 percent oxygen environment at up to 2.5 atmospheres of pressure — has helped heal his damaged brain.
Advocates say the pressurized oxygen can heal not only damage from traumatic brain injury but other ailments including autism, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and AIDS.
Neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor National Institutes of Health (NIH) has approved hyperbaric treatments for traumatic brain injury, autism, Parkinson’s, cancer or AIDS. In addition, the Department of Defense has sponsored several studies focused on the use of hyperbaric therapy for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries and found little or no benefit from the therapy.
At the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs medical center, spokesman Blake Anderson said the hospital is not using hyperbaric treatment for veterans with brain injuries. “At this time there is not enough evidence to support its use,” he said. Insurance does not cover such treatments, but Burghard said his costs were covered by various agencies that are committed to the therapy.
Halfway through his hyperbaric treatments, Burghard said, his brain injury symptoms began to decrease. Today, he said, he feels he has regained most, if not all of his previous functions. He attributes the change to the hyperbaric treatment.
Despite such stories, the larger scientific community has found little evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps people with traumatic brain injury. Some scientists say those who encourage such treatment provide false hope to sometimes desperate and vulnerable people.
There is no doubt in my mind the issue of treating brain injury is important. In an article I read some time ago, the author mentioned that more then 260,000 U.S. veterans have suffered brain injuries since 2000. Even though scientists have not proven a connection between hyperbaric treatment and recovery from brain injury, they have also failed to prove there is no connection. To me, the conclusion that something which cannot be proven true must be false is illogical, irrational, and irresponsible.
If a survivor of brain injury believes hyperbaric treatment works, there is no reason to prevent that person from trying the treatment. Improvement may result from the treatment, passage of time, or other factors the scientist cannot identify at this time, but there is no evidence to suggest hyperbaric treatments does not work.
Suggesting something cannot be true because we cannot prove it to be true is similar to saying the sun revolves around the Earth because we cannot prove the Earth revolves around the sun. According to Wikipedia, “the geocentric model is the belief where Earth is at the orbital center of all celestial bodies. This model served as the predominant cosmological system in many civilizations. The astronomical predictions of the geocentric model were used to prepare astrological and astronomical charts for over 1500 years.” However, we know today the Sun, Moon, stars, and naked eye planets circle the sun not the Earth.
It is not a big stretch for me to conclude what scientists think today might not be the truth in the future.