theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

June 15, 2014

Speaker touts brain injury treatment for veterans

Ada — When William Duncan’s youngest son suffered a brain injury in a 1998 training accident, he retreated to his bedroom and lived in the dark for the next two years.

Duncan said he walked by his son’s room one night, and his son asked to talk to him for a minute. Duncan’s son said that he couldn’t hold down a job, which meant he couldn’t find a girlfriend, get married or have children.

Duncan said his son had decided to kill himself, but he didn’t want his mother to find him. So Duncan’s son asked his father to take care of him.

The son’s cry for help prompted Duncan to seek a way to treat the injury, which led him to a doctor who had successfully used hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat people who had suffered strokes or traumatic brain injuries. Based on the doctor’s track record, Duncan decided that the therapy might help his son.

Duncan said he sent his son to a New Orleans hospital for treatment, which lasted for a month. His son received 40 hyperbaric oxygen sessions, half of today’s standard treatment.

Duncan said the therapy turned his son’s life around.

“To my surprise, two months later he was gainfully employed,” Duncan said. “Nine months later, he was married. Nine months after that, he had the sixth grandchild.”

Duncan, who serves as vice president of development the Virginia-based International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation, visited East Central University on Thursday to tout the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for people with traumatic brain injuries. The foundation supports the nonprofit organization Patriot Clinics, which focuses on treating veterans and other people with brain injuries.

Patriot Clinics operates a clinic in Oklahoma City, and officials are looking at opening a similar facility in Ada. The clinics are funded by private donations, payment for service and third-party payments when possible.

Proponents hail hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a breakthrough in treating traumatic brain injuries that can produce life-changing results. But some researchers have questioned those claims, saying the treatment is ineffective at best and potentially dangerous at worst.

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