In January 2016 my mother suffered a severe aneurysm and a stroke and was in a critical condition for three months. After she emerged from her coma, she was in a vegetative state and her prognosis was very bad, and she was released from rehabilitation for lack of improvement. When she came home, she was still needing hospital level care and two people 24/7 to care for her.
Lisa Tamati and her Mum, Isobel
Our family was of course devastated and desperate, and so I started researching everything I could on brain injury. I came across a website by a Dr Harch in America who had been researching Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for traumatic brain injury for over 30 years. I devoured all the videos and peer-reviewed studies and clinical studies. I read his book “The Oxygen Revolution” and studied text books on Hyperbaric Therapy and became convinced it would be Mum's best shot at recovering some of her faculties.
I knew that the dead cells in the brain could not be recovered, but there is an area around the dead cells called the Ischaemic Penumbra which is an area of cells that are damaged and in a “stunned” state that could perhaps be recovered if they could get enough oxygen and energy.
After four months of intense study, we developed our own protocols for Mum based on my research, and we got sign off from Mum's Neurosurgeon, whose opinion was that it couldn’t hurt and might help. I then went on a search for a facility where she could have hyperbaric treatment and quickly realised there wasn’t anywhere nearby.
Auckland and Christchurch Hospitals had hyperbaric clinics, but in New Zealand this therapy is only approved and funded for burns, crush injuries, diabetic wounds and gas gangrene, and even then it would be impossible to get a referral from the provinces to these facilities. I then discovered there were private mild hyperbaric clinics operating around the world and that there were even a select few in New Zealand.
In contrast to the medical level facilities, these chambers were monoplane (for one person only) and only ran supplemental oxygen as opposed to 100% medical oxygen (because of tight regulations around the use of medical oxygen) and the chambers typically only went up to 1.4 or .1.5 atmospheres (i.e. 1.4 to 1.5 the amount of pressure at sea level or the equivalent of being around 4 to 5 metres under water).
For brain injury this was the exact recommended pressure rating that Dr Harch recommended. For wounds etc ideally a higher 2 to 2.5, even 3 atmospheres is recommended but not for brain injury.
After a long search, I was lucky to find a hyperbaric oxygen chamber that we could get access too. Mum had 33 sessions. This poor, disabled lady showed great strength and determination in allowing herself to undergo a process which has enabled her mental faculties to improve. She was lowered to an equivalent of .15 atmospheres and was put on 100% oxygen for an hour and a half in total, every session.
After about three weeks we started noticing improvement in her alertness, speech, coordination. They were still small but definite improvements. Then after the 33 treatments, Mum had a chance to recover from the fatigue of the treatments. Hyperbaric sessions are a bit like physical training in that they can be exhausting. The body is growing new blood vessels and repairing tissue at a faster rate, and this tires the body. Subsequently, it is usually after a few days of rest that the improvements come.
A few days after stopping this first block of treatments (we had hoped to get to 40 treatments before having the break, the recommended amount, but this wasn’t possible), Mum suddenly made rapid and huge gains. Every day saw new breakthroughs, and we were reinforced in our belief in hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Mum's cognitive processing has now improved so much. Her short and long term memory has come back to almost normal. She can read entire novels, do maths again and write and, most importantly, she can laugh, feel emotion and compassion. She is our Mum again.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been my Mum's miracle, and I want more than anything to share this knowledge and this therapy - to make it available to others. That is why we have opened O2plus.
We hope it will be of benefit to you and your loved ones. Please explore the science behind it, read the clinical studies, read the books and watch the videos, and ask us. We want to help!