NEW ORLEANS - It's a treatment some doctors say can restore some brain function after injury. Still others want to see even more proof. So Congress has awarded a local doctor a grant to use his treatment on veterans and people who have suffered brain damage.
Janie Fuller, 51, loved being a paramedic. It was her job, and her passion. "First time I rode on an ambulance was summer of '81, so I've been doing this for over 30 years, so I was hooked after the first ride," said Fuller.
But nearly three years ago, she needed paramedics to save her.
"I was riding my motorcycle and a pickup truck pulled out in front of me. I hit him at 35 miles an hour in the passenger front tire. I remember turning my head striking the post with the side of my face, rolling onto my face on the windshield. That's the last thing I remember," Fuller recalled of that June day in 2012.
She suffered traumatic brain injury, called TBI. Her life changed.
"For the first probably six months, I sat on my sofa with my head against the back of the sofa, and like, even eye movement would
make the room feel like it was spinning at 90 miles an hour," She said.
Besides dizziness, she lost her balance and would fall. Her memory was gone. She was unable to read or cook without forgetting a burning pot on the stove, or go anywhere without forgetting where she was going. She became a home body until she joined a free study by LSU Health Sciences Emergency Medicine expert Dr. Paul Harch.
For decades he's been using hyperbaric oxygen treatments to help after brain injury. He's done many studies including some on veterans with TBI and PTSD.
"It's surprising that even many years out, we're having patients with substantial improvement," Said Dr. Harch, noting that the sooner a patient is treated after an injury, the better the result.
Using his methods, Israeli researchers were able to duplicate his results.
"The Israelis took the protocol that I developed here beginning in 1989, and have now duplicated what we have in a randomized study. It's published. They got the same results and they got improvements in brain blood flow just like we have," said Dr. Harch, who says there are five randomized studies on HBOT for TBI.
In the study, patients undergo one-hour dives in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber five days a week for a total of eight weeks.
Janie is finished with her 40 treatments.
"I have a life again, like my memory is 1,000 times better. I cook all the time now. I've started reading that book again but I don't have to keep rereading the same chapters. I don't have the adequate words to make you understand how amazing this has been for me," said Fuller.
The brain injury study at LSU Health Sciences Center is open to adults, including veterans, from anywhere in the U.S.
To see if you qualify for the free treatments call 504-427-5632. or go to