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Joe Namath: Experimental Oxygen Treatment Has Helped Brain Heal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Joe Namath says 120 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber have improved his mental acuity and physical health.

The Jets great was the first patient in an experiment by a Florida hospital to see if bathing the body in pure oxygen might restore blood flow to injured areas of the brain.

Namath said he had at least five concussions during his college career at Alabama and his years with the Jets. He was in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, showing off before and after brain scans, which demonstrated improved blood flow, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

Joe Namath: Experimental Oxygen Treatment Has Helped Brain Heal

"People ask me, 'Joe, have you ever had concussions?'" Namath said. "Well, there was a time I jokingly said, 'I don't know if I've ever had concussions, but I had a heck of a lot of smelling salts.'

"After seeing some of my teammates -- a couple of them literally deteriorate and pass on -- I began to analyze and monitor myself, so to speak," the football Hall of Famer added.

The NFL recently reported as many as a third of players can be expected to show premature brain injury. Namath said his health was good before the treatment, but he reports having more energy and says, "Now, if I forget things, it's my own fault."

Hyperbaric chambers are currently best known for helping to heal wounds. Doctors at Jupiter Medical Center reasoned they might also help heal traumatic brain injuries.

"It stimulates regeneration of cells," explained Dr. Barry Miskin. "So there are stem cells that are regenerated, and you're actually generating new brain tissue."

The medical center has named a neurological research center for Namath. It's seeking funding and 100 patients to continue the experiment.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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