When husbands, dads, brothers, and sons go off to war it’s unfortunately all too common they return home with an invisible wound of the battlefield – PTSD.

This is exactly what happened to Manny.

When his unit suddenly found themselves surrounded and cut off from communications with their support network, Manny was the one who volunteered to brave enemy fire, crawl out from their bunker, rescue their radio equipment, and signal for help. While he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers, and at first seemed fine himself, several years later the impacts of that event resulted in a total inability to function. The smallest movement, sound, commotion of any sort, or everyday stress would set him off into a rage state.

Today’s article in Psychology Today talks about Manny’s struggles and highlights two treatments that are emerging from overwhelming research to help military service men and women, just like Manny, return to the self they were before they went to war to fight for our freedom: hyperbaric oxygen therapy and stellate ganglion block.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy utilizes pure oxygen to speed healing, and is most often used to treat conditions like decompression sickness or gangrene. Is it possible that oxygen treatment could help with PTSD?

Researchers at Israel’s Tel Aviv University and the Shamir Medical Center studied brain scans of Israeli soldiers whose wartime traumas had left them with long-term PTSD. As they reported in the scientific journal PLOS One, the scans showed physical damage in the hippocampus and frontal lobe regions.

Because of this organic brain damage, talk therapies have often been insufficiently effective. PTSD brain damage likely needed physical healing for the emotional wounds to heal, they argued.

In the initial round of testing, which involved 65 war veterans with major PTSD, before and after brain scans showed major improvement. Improvement in the brain was visible in both the hippocampus and the frontal lobes, they found. The study was small, and more research is needed to confirm the therapy’s effectiveness, but the results are promising.

Hyperbaric treatment increases the supply of oxygen to the brain to activate the creation of new blood vessels and neurons. The oxygen infusion reactivates stem cells and causes them to proliferate (grow more). The oxygen also stimulates the production of new blood vessels, thought to result in increased brain activity and restore wounded tissues to normal functioning.

Treatments are conducted in a hyperbaric chamber, where atmospheric pressure is higher than sea-level pressure and the air is rich with oxygen.

To read more about HBOT or Stellate ganglion block treatment for the treatment of PTSD, read more here.