Oklahoma closer to offering veterans free oxygen treatment for b

Oklahoma closer to offering veterans free oxygen treatment for brain injuries, PTSD

Posted: Updated:

Forty thousand veterans in the state with brain injuries could get help for free, if current legislation continues forward. Army Capt. Matt Smothermon remembers the week after his injury as a blur.

"In the immediate wake of the blast itself it almost felt like I was drunk the entire time," he said.

Smothermon was in a vehicle hit by three IED's in Afghanistan. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, and when he came home things did not get better.

"That drove me down into kind of a cycle of depression, I was unable to emotionally relate to people, I didn't really care about a whole lot of things," he said, "it was miserable, it was really miserable. I hated it, I hated every single moment of it."

Wednesday, Rep. John Bennett (R- Sallisaw) holds up a grocery bag full of pill bottles.

"This right here is about 30 to 60 days worth of what someone's gonna get if they have issues relating to traumatic brain injury or PTSD," he said.

Veterans and lawmakers stood behind him, to promote hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which Smothermon found through Oklahoma State University when he hit rock bottom.

"The lights would suddenly come back on, I could focus," he said, remembering his first treatments.

The therapy is not FDA approved. But studies show the 100 percent oxygen chambers trigger the brain's neurons and harness the healing power of oxygen. And advocates say the therapy is better than pills, which can lead to self- treatment and even criminal activity among veterans.

Secretary for Military and Veteran's Affairs Major Gen. (Ret.) Rita Aragon says of the 3,000 veterans incarcerated in Oklahoma, more than 80 percent tried to self-medicate their symptoms.

The bill that passed unanimously through the Senate would offer treatment free to the 40,000 affected veterans in the state.

"The first treatment their photophobia tends to go away, it's that light sensitivity that gives them migraine headaches. By the fifth treatment their headaches are generally under control and by the tenth treatment they can sleep through the night," said Dr. Bill Duncan, the Vice President for Government Affairs for the International Hyperbaric Medical Association

Duncan also runs a clinic in Oklahoma City that uses hyperbaric therapy to treat veterans, police officers, firefighters and victims of crime for free.

According to a study in the Journal of Neurotrauma, patients recover 15 IQ points on average after treatment. PTSD is reduced by an average of 30 percent, and depression reduced by 51 percent, which leads to a much lower risk of suicide.

Duncan says the program calls for 80 treatments in 150 days. They add up to $25,000 per patient. But he says each injured vet costs the state $60,000 in lost taxes, incarceration and meds.

Even so, the bill does not require the state to pay for treatments. Instead, authors plan to fundraise.

"If the federal government won't take care of our troops like we're supposed to, than we're going to take care of our own people here in Oklahoma," said Bennett.

Smothermon says the treatments gave him a pathway back to his old life.

"It's a living tragedy," he said, "so in a very real way it saved my life, gave me my life back."

Duncan says it's never too late to treat someone. In fact, his oldest patient was 91 years old.

The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • Clinic veterans call a "life-saver" in danger of closing by end of the week

    Clinic veterans call a "life-saver" in danger of closing by end of the week

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:20 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:20:27 GMT
    FOX 25 highlighted the Patriot Clinic in S. Oklahoma City in our military town hall meeting in May. Patients of all kinds go there to get a prescription to use hyperbaric oxygen treatment for a number of illnesses and injuries. 
    FOX 25 highlighted the Patriot Clinic in S. Oklahoma City in our military town hall meeting in May. Patients of all kinds go there to get a prescription to use hyperbaric oxygen treatment for a number of illnesses and injuries. 
  • "Botched" execution in Arizona familiar issue in Oklahoma

    "Botched" execution in Arizona familiar issue in Oklahoma

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:42:11 GMT
    An all too familiar case is raising more questions about death penalty procedures Oklahoma and across the country.The Arizona Department of Corrections said Thursday Joseph Wood's execution was not botched. Officials say Wood was comatose during the two hour ordeal Wednesday. They say noises witnesses described as gasping and struggling for breath, was actually Wood snoring.Witnesses said something was clearly wrong.Related: Controversy brews over drawn out execution in Arizona"It was tough f...
    An all too familiar case is raising more questions about death penalty procedures Oklahoma and across the country.The Arizona Department of Corrections said Thursday Joseph Wood's execution was not botched. Officials say Wood was comatose during the two hour ordeal Wednesday. They say noises witnesses described as gasping and struggling for breath, was actually Wood snoring.Witnesses said something was clearly wrong.Related: Controversy brews over drawn out execution in Arizona"It was tough f...
  • Teachers begin preparing classrooms for new standards

    Teachers begin preparing classrooms for new standards

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:35 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:35:16 GMT
    Across Oklahoma classrooms, new standards are on the way. As teachers throw out old plans, there are question about what teachers should get ready for in the coming days.State superintendent Janet Barresi says at least a portion is up to your local district."The real curriculum that is how they are taught, is determined by the teacher in their classroom or by the school," Barresi said.Barresi says the state standards will transition off common core starting this year and teach the PASS standa...
    Across Oklahoma classrooms, new standards are on the way. As teachers throw out old plans, there are question about what teachers should get ready for in the coming days.State superintendent Janet Barresi says at least a portion is up to your local district."The real curriculum that is how they are taught, is determined by the teacher in their classroom or by the school," Barresi said.Barresi says the state standards will transition off common core starting this year and teach the PASS standa...
  • More HeadlinesMore>>

  • Gallup survey: majority of Americans opposed to lowering drinking age

    Gallup survey: majority of Americans opposed to lowering drinking age

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:40:36 GMT
    When it comes to the drinking age, the vast majority of Americans don't want to go back to the future.
    When it comes to the drinking age, the vast majority of Americans don't want to go back to the future.
  • Maine prepares for new work requirement people who receive food stamps

    Maine prepares for new work requirement people who receive food stamps

    Thursday, July 24 2014 4:00 PM EDT2014-07-24 20:00:42 GMT
    It's a federal law that hasn't been enforced in Maine since the recession. But Governor LePage and the Department of Health and Human Services will soon start enforcing work requirement for able-bodied adults who collectively get $15-million dollars a year in food stamps. More than 200,000 people in Maine currently receive food stamps to help feed themselves or their families.
    It's a federal law that hasn't been enforced in Maine since the recession. But Governor LePage and the Department of Health and Human Services will soon start enforcing work requirement for able-bodied adults who collectively get $15-million dollars a year in food stamps. More than 200,000 people in Maine currently receive food stamps to help feed themselves or their families.
  • 116 passengers and crew missing in Air Algerie flight

    116 passengers and crew missing in Air Algerie flight

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:28 AM EDT2014-07-24 15:28:48 GMT
    ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- Authorities say a flight operated by Air Algerie carrying 110 passengers and a crew of six has disappeared from the radar on a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers.
    ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- Authorities say a flight operated by Air Algerie carrying 110 passengers and a crew of six has disappeared from the radar on a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers.
  • FOX25 Slideshows

Most Popular

Stories
Videos
Compiling list...
  • FOX 25 FeaturesMore>>

  • Tell Me Something Good

    Tell Me Something Good

    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
  • Waste Watch

    Waste Watch

    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by 

WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KOKH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.