North Carolina state lawmakers unanimously passed legislation which would allow medical professionals to prescribe Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to veterans with PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury.
“With nearly 20 veterans from across our nation each day committing suicide, I believe it is important now more than ever for us to find alternative approaches, as well as therapies,” said NC Sen. Don Davis.
House Bill 50 passed both the House and the Senate unanimously.
This alternative form of treatment is known to reduce inflammation in the brain – decreasing signs of PTSD and TBI.
“The thought is that a lot of injuries that veterans suffer during combat or during those types of situations are the result of injuries to the brain,” said NC Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy. “I use Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in my medical practice. I use it for wounds that will not heal. And the way it works is you and I breathe air that is 21 percent oxygen, but what they do is go into a chamber where there is 100 percent oxygen.”
Medical professionals say patients often have trouble responding to traditional therapies like medication and counseling. They believe this method could be a game changer.
Local military advocates are also showing support for the bill.
”I’d say to anyone that has that experience, that has that feeling, know it’s not hopeless, that’s the important thing to know it’s not hopeless and this therapy probably can help,” said Vietnam veteran, Jim Hooker of Greenville.
Hooker was one of the leading advocates of the bill. He brought the idea to North Carolina after witnessing similar laws’ successes in other states. He says he wished the therapy was available to his friends and fellow service members after the Vietnam War.
“We could have changed the lives of many millions of injured veterans,” he said.
Currently, the therapy is not covered by government insurance; however lawmakers and advocates are hoping to raise private funds to help veterans get the treatment.
Hooker says the out-of-pocket fee is about 100 to 110 dollars per hour of treatment.
“It gives our veterans now some hope in circumstances where they literally have no hope,” said Rep. Dr. Murphy.
The bill will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019.