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hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)is the use of greater than atmospheric pressure oxygen as a drug to treat basic disease processes. Like other drugs, attention must be paid to the dose (pressure), the duration and frequency of treatments and the number of treatments.

Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge breed’s misperception and skepticism. Ignorance, ego and conflict of interest may prevent an honest, critical evaluation of a new therapy. As an example, if aspirin is given in a low dose, there may not be a perceived affect, and in too high a dose, ulcer disease and possibly death may occur. But when given at the correct dose, aspirin is beneficial. Such is the case with HBOT. The knowledge is available, but one must expend energy in looking for it. It is human nature that a doctor uses the drugs, surgery, etc. that is familiar to him and, unfortunately, sometimes, in which he also derives benefit.

The late Christopher Reeve, the actor tragically injured in a horseback riding accident, said that in the United States there is no sense of urgency in treating patients. As Dr. Weiss has observed over the 27 years he has practiced medicine, our country is in love with process; we are more concerned that the paper work is correct than the patient is helped. When asked about HBOT, physicians say, “there is no proof.” But this statement relies upon several assumptions, including, whether you even looked for the “proof.” How do you define “proof.” Certainly, in a legal context, there are different definitions of proof in a criminal versus a civil trial or an arbitration proceeding.

And what if there is proof, but the author of a paper cannot get it published. Does that mean that the therapy doesn’t work; of course not. Both Dr. Neubauer and Dr. Weiss have had well written papers that challenged the accepted doctrine and were not published. The unfortunate history of medicine is that anyone who challenged authority was attacked, but it is the patient who truly suffers. The physicians who pioneered intraocular lenses in cataract surgery, removing the cataract with ultrasound, reattaching the retina with a gas bubble in the office were all attacked and ridiculed. Yet, today these are all considered routine, standard procedures in ophthalmology. But as the late Dr. Judah Folkmann, the discoverer of new blood vessel growth in tumor formation, who was himself attacked for his pioneering work pointed out, the critics never apologize.

In medicine, the “gold standard” is the randomized, controlled, double-blinded clinical study that typically costs drug companies millions of dollars to perform. In the case of HBOT, there is no patentable billion dollar drug that would justify the cost of performing the study. Oxygen is inexpensive, and non-patentable. The companies that manufacture hyperbaric chambers are very small, especially when compared to the size of a drug company. But what about the patient who is suffering?

The federal government and private organizations may provide funding for studies. But, in the past, have been reluctant to do so. Why? Well, in this era of declining funding, and despite the fact that HBOT has the capacity to help hundreds of thousands of people, there are more pressing conditions that affect millions, i.e. heart disease, cancer, etc. And in the presence of an already negative bias, the physicians reviewing the grant applications for hyperbaric oxygen studies will not look at them in a favorable light. Insurance companies, who might ultimately benefit in the form of reduced long term treatment costs are not looking at the big picture, they only want to pay for as little as they can now, in the short term, for you may not be insured with them in the long term.

So, where does this leave the patient? To ignore the hundreds of reports showing benefit, because they are not part of a randomized, double-blinded controlled clinical study does not mean that the therapy doesn’t work. Is the patient expected to go home and wait for the results of a study no one is doing? Would the doctors refusing treatment or hope do that for their own children? Of course not! If you shut your eyes tight enough you might claim there was no sun in the sky. There were always stars in the sky, the invention of the telescope just allowed them to be seen.