Expanding Oxygen Therapy Goal Of One Legislator

by Landen Sandoval

OKLAHOMA CITY – Have you ever wondered if there was a way to not only recover but regenerate faster from an injury or over exertion?  A growing option for post-injury care is using oxygen.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, commonly referred to as HbOT, is a form of therapy that consists of high concentrations of oxygen in a completely air tight chamber. Patients are placed in the chamber to breathe in the pure oxygen atmosphere.

The treatment is sometimes used by veterans returning from war.  Using HbOT, veterans say it aids in the recovery from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.  While the treatment concept is not new, its modern application is in the process of being rediscovered according to Oklahoma Representative Jay Steagall, R-Yukon.  

“You live in a chamber, completely run on oxygen,” Steagall said.  “Imagine what could happen if you breathed 100 percent of it.”  

Steagall, a veteran himself, hosted a House study on the expanded use of HbOT in Oklahoma.  He said he would like to see the treatment used for a wider range of conditions including in sports for treating concussions and improving performance.  

The treatment allegedly increases the regeneration process of all bodily functions.  It does this simply by saturating the blood and increasing blood flow, basically overclocking the human body. 

“Whenever I get one treatment, I can think clearer, it feels as if more of my brain is turned on.” Jaclyn Constant, an employee and patient at HbOT provider Oklahoma Oasis, said.  “Words come to me easier, and everything just works better. Any kind of pain that I might have, it’s all gone when I go in that chamber.”

Constant said she has watched as patients go through a treatment program.  Some cannot walk into the center at the start, but by the end of the course of treatment are able to walk nearly unassisted.  

 “One of our operators; her husband had a stroke, and he was wheelchair bound,” Constand said.  “He walked out of here today using one stick.”

There is a catch.  The treatment can be costly because in many cases insurance does not cover the therapy.  Some hospitals in Oklahoma do provide HbOT therapies that are covered by insurance, but that coverage does not extend to a wide range of potential uses.

“If insurance would cover this, this would be a first line of defense,” Constant said.  “This would be the first thing we would go, to try and help somebody. It would save insurance companies A LOT of money, if they just covered it.” 

“We are closely monitoring other states in their efforts to make this type of therapy more available to those who can benefit from it,” Steagall said in a statement after his interim study.

Note: This story was updated on Friday, February 7 at 2:31 p.m.

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