Senate Bill aims to help veterans with traumatic brain injury

Published: Mar. 20, 2014 at 8:11 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 26, 2014 at 7:06 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla._Oklahoma's veterans who are battling serious brain injuries might soon be able to get free treatment.

The State Senate has approved a bill that would provide Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for free to any veteran who has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Some medical experts agree that the procedure has proven to be very effective, and veterans are eager to receive any help they can get in their recovery.

Rick Jerez was in the Marine Corps for eight years and stationed in Beirut, he is now considered 100% disabled and fully understands how state funding can help veterans get the aid their need.

"Obviously anything that has science backing its function and its results, anything that would benefit veterans should be something we absolutely should consider. I mean, where is the negative," said Jerez.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can have several benefits for anyone, veteran or not, who has suffered a traumatic brain injury.

"And when we put a patient in the chamber we basically create a high-enriched oxygen state and the high enriched oxygen state has multiple wound healing benefits," said Dr. Aryan Kadivar, Medical Director for Southwestern Medical Wound Center.

One of the benefits of using the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy includes healing patients in anywhere from ten to forty treatments. Some patients were able to regain their cognitive and social skills back more so than on any other treatment.

"Someone with dramatic brain injury has a lot of swelling and cell damage. So it's going to decrease the swelling for one and it's also going to bring more blood supply to these delicate neurons, delicate tissue that could die," said Dr. Kadivar.

It's a procedure that Jerez believes is just the next logical step in taking care of Oklahoma's veterans.

"Oklahoma already does a lot for veterans. It is a very veteran friendly state and so to have that as an added benefit would be superb," said Jerez.

The bill passed unanimously through the Oklahoma Senate. It now heads to the house for their vote.

Oklahoma Senate Bill 1604