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An old and familiar piece of technology is being used in the northern suburbs for a whole new reason: to get rid of concussions.
Chicago-area doctor Daphne Denham says, when it comes to acute concussions, typically those that have occurred in 10 days or less, this can help.

Dr. Denham says she is doing it with a hyperbaric chamber at her medical offices in Northbrook. She is collecting data and living out her passion of treating and getting rid of acute concussions one patient at a time

Her goal is to see a patient right away within for 12-48 hours. They are often kids coming off the soccer field, the football field or the ice. Dr Denham has seen it too many times. She is a mother of 6 kids herself, all of whom play sports. In fact her second patient at her office was her own daughter.

She places patients into one of her four hyperbaric chambers and closes him or her in tight and for an hour each time. It is used to reduce swelling by 30% and create more blood flow to the brain allowing for faster repair.

“It’s pure oxygen with a little more pressure than you have from flying on an airplane,” Dr Denham says.

Denham says the treatment helps reverse the damage. She says there is minimal risk for seizure. Diabetic patients have to be monitored more closely, but the biggest risk is fire. Patients are only allowed to wear 100% cotton scrubs when they are inside the pressure chamber-no jewelry, no lotions, makeup or hair products, no electronics. Only a water bottle.

During the process, patients can speak with people on the outside, but largely spend time watching TV during the “dive,” as the treatments are called. They have to be able to pop their ears from time to time as pressure builds, but that’s it.

Dr Denham has treated 30 patients so far and all the results show the treatment is working for acute concussions. And animal studies back it up.

Still this therapy rooted in medical history when it comes to treating carbon monoxide poisoning, certain burns and wounds, doctors like Denham are finding scores of other ailments that could be treated such as ALS, Bell’s Palsy, cancer, strokes and concussions.

“One of our biggest hurdles is lack of physician understanding,” Dr Denham says. “Qe’ve been called voodoo. We’ve been called quack. We’ve been called experimental.”
While hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not FDA approved for treating concussions, yet, patients are convinced it’s working.
The cost can vary but one thing that is for sure is that insurance does not cover these treatments for concussions.

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