The TBI and PTSD Treatment Act (HR 4370) would amend the portion of the US Code that outlines veteran’s benefits to direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This treatment would be available to any veterans who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
TBI occurs when the head or body are subjected to a violent and sudden blow or jolt. Injuries and explosions during combat can often lead to TBI. TBI can lead to a variety of short-term effects, such as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. In the last few years, studies have shown that TBI can also have important long-term effects, including increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and increased risk of suicide and unintended death by overdose or firearms.
PTSD can develop in people who have experienced shocking, dangerous, or frightening events; however, not everyone who experiences these types of events will develop PTSD. At-risk populations can have a more difficult time managing their health in the presence of PTSD, including those at risk for suicide and alcohol misuse. This bill is targeted at providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy to veterans because they are at high risk of suffering from TBI or experiencing PTSD as byproducts of their time in combat.
Furthermore, compared to Vietnam, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to a higher number of TBI and PTSD cases. The proposed legislation would add hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an available treatment for veterans. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen while in a pressurized room. It is a well-established treatment for several medical conditions, such as decompression sickness and chronic wounds. Furthermore, there is some clinical evidence for the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in treating TBI and PTSD, but this research is still in the early stages. The VA currently has a pilot program to test hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment for TBI and PTSD that seems to be having initial success, according to TreatNOW’s Robert L. Beckman.
An identical bill, S 2504, was introduced in the Senate at the same time.