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Study: Hyperbaric Chambers For Concussions No More Effective Than Placebo

DENVER (CBS4) - A decade ago, a bomb blast seriously wounded Donald Martinez in Iraq. He suffered traumatic brain injuries, sleep apnea, migraines and PTSD.

No medications helped, so in desperation, Martinez turned to the Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Institute. In March, he underwent treatment in which he inhaled 100 percent oxygen.

He said he believes the treatment works, and he's still receiving hyperbaric sessions.

(credit: CBS)

Dr. Julie Stapleton told CBS4 then she's seen improvement in up to 80 percent of her patients in hyperbaric treatments.

But a study released Monday says hyperbaric chambers were no more effective in treating post-concussion symptoms than air-filled placebo, or "sham," chambers.

The study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, did conclude however that hyperbaric oxygen works better for patients who weren't subjected to any treatment -- sham or not.

In March, CBS4 asked Martinez about studies that say hyperbaric treatments don't work.

"Yes, studies do say that, but here I am," he said.

On Monday, Martinez said he's received about 100 treatments, and he still believes in their efficacy in reducing migraines.

Stapleton on Monday also said she has lots of questions about the clinical trial and that other studies have shown impressive results.

The study, which was conducted by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, included 72 military service members at military hospitals in Colorado and three other states.

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