Bill funding hyperbaric chamber for veterans advances to Senate floor

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Senate panel passed a bill Wednesday to set up a pilot program to treat veterans and service members with brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in hyperbaric chambers.

The Senate passed House Bill 1942 by a vote of 17-3. The measure moves to the Senate floor.

Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore, the measure’s Senate sponsor, said the FDA is studying hyperbaric chambers as a treatment option.

Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, said that because there is no conclusive evidence that the treatment works, promoting it may give false hope to those who have a brain injury or PTSD.

Simpson replied that some studies have shown that the conditions of some patients have improved as a result. Hyperbaric chambers have been used successfully to treat diabetic wounds, he said.

Simpson said he hopes to secure $3 million to $5 million in state funds for the pilot program. The location for the proposed program has not been determined.

Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, said he has serious concerns that state funds are being sought when the research results are not in.

Simpson said the issue can be emotional, adding that some service members returning from duty have a high rate of suicide, deal with disintegrating families, and self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

If the treatment worked, he said, it would return some veterans to being productive members of society and pay for itself.

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