top of page


Sponsored by the Center for Compassionate Innovation, VHA Central Office

Department of Defense Site



This clinical demonstration project proposes to provide Veterans, with a history of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with or without a diagnosis of co-occurring traumatic brain injury (TBI), access to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). It is intended as a treatment option for a small group of Veterans who have not had success with at least two evidence based therapies. This project is a partnership with the Center for Compassionate Innovation (CCI), VA Northern California Health Care System (VAMC), and a Department of Defense (DoD) site: David Grant Medical Center (DGMC) located on the Travis Air Force Base, California.

(Click here to read the full report)


Flyer Treament of GWI with Hyperbaric Oxygen Final 1.png

The Gulf War Illness Heroes Pilot Program - The22Project


Pilot Research Study: Treatment of Gulf War Illness with Hyperbaric Oxygen

Purpose: Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a disabling, chronic, multi-symptom illness of unknown origin that has affected approximately one-third of the 700,000 U.S.A. military troops deployed to the Middle East between 1990-1991. The purpose of this pilot research study is to evaluate the effect of treating GWI Veterans with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

While deployed in the Gulf War, GWI Veterans were exposed to numerous environmental toxins such as sarin gas, pesticides, vaccines, and toxic inhalants from oil well fires. Researchers think that these environmental exposures play a role in the reason why GWI occurred and continues to progress with time. Toxins damage brain cells and mitochondria, which are the energy-producing organelles inside of the brain cells. This damage results in cognitive difficulties including mental fatigue, poor concentration, memory problems, sleep disturbance and mental health problems including anxiety and depression.

Description of HBOT: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved HBOT for a variety of conditions including wound healing in diabetics, infections of the bone, carbon monoxide poisoning and radiation exposure. To date, there have been no research studies using HBOT to treat GWI Veterans.

HBOT delivers increased oxygen to brain cells in two ways: 1) oxygen is increased from 21% found in room air to 100%, and 2) the atmospheric pressure is increased from 1 to 1.5 ATM (atmospheric pressure measurement). By increasing the amount of oxygen to the brain, mitochondrial function in the brain cells improves. In addition, increased oxygen stimulates the brain’s ability to produce new brain cells from brain stem cells and replace the damaged brain cells.

GWI Pilot Research Description: For this pilot research project, a total of 20 GWI Veterans, using the Kansas criteria for GWI, will be assessed both pre- and post-treatment with HBOT. Each GWI Veteran will receive HBOT treatments twice a day from Monday to Friday for a total of 40 treatments. The GWI Veterans will be assessed before and after treatment with self-assessment symptom questionnaires for fatigue, pain, sleep, cognitive difficulties, anxiety and depression, brain SPECT scans, online neuropsychological testing, and Fitbit trackers.

Impact: This study will provide preliminary evidence for a new treatment for GWI Veterans. This evidence is needed to apply for larger research studies needed to prove that HBOT successfully treats GWI and to reveal the underlying mechanisms of disease and repair in GWI. The potential is to help disabled GWI Veterans to improve their ability to function both physically and mentally. If proven successful, this research pilot could also initiate future research studies in HBOT for the treatment of first responders such as fire and police officers who are also exposed to toxic chemicals from fires while performing their duties.

Research Team: Alison C. Bested, MD, FRCPC, Associate Professor and Chair, Integrative Medicine NSU, Principal Investigator; Nancy G. Klimas, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chair, Department of Clinical Immunology NSU, Co-Investigator; Kristina Aenlle, PhD, Assistant Professor NSU and Maria Abreu, PhD, Associate Director NSU, Supervision of Laboratory Procedures.


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for PTSD Clinical Demonstration Pilot

flowers from TreatNOW website jan 2022.png


SUMMARY: The TreatNOW Coalition is working to expand the VA’s standard of care for Suicide Prevention through use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and other proven alternative therapies for TBI/PTSD. With the suicide epidemic growing across all military services, the National Guard, the Reserves, the VA, Special Operations and in society, Congress should insist that HBOT be made available for all brain-wounded service members and veterans without delay.

bottom of page