Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Association for Brain Injury

Ignite Boulder 9 was a host to just a few Sparks, but amazing quality.  One of my alltime favorites is:

We are always looking for non-profits to share our profits from with Ignite.  This Ignite, we are donating to organizations that our community is involved with.  We are donating to a non-profit close to her heart (and head) as well as the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers Foundation.

From Aliea:

So, I’m just writing to you to tell you a little more about the non-profit that you’ve so graciously agreed to donate to, and my experiences with the therapy they’ve provided for me.

The non-profit is the Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Association for Brain Injury and is a part of the Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Institute. The non-profit is set up to help people with brain injuries (strokes, traumatic brain injuries, anoxic brain injuries, cerebal palsy..) access hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) because it’s been found to be really helpful in these cases, but there isn’t enough empircal research yet to allow FDA approval and insurance coverage so the therapy regimine is somewhat expensive.

As you know, I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury last May that resulted in a whole host of issues, the biggest one being that I was forced to drop out of med school. I’ve been anxious for ways to help my healing process along (typical recovery times for this type of injury are in the neighborhood of 2-5 YEARS) because my goals included a gradual return to my MD/MPH program over summer 2010. My providers told me they had seen results with HBOT and it is only through the support of this non-profit that I was able to consider the therapy— which, by the way, has resulted in the most significant improvements in my symptoms, bar none. This therapy, in a way none of my other therapies have– has led me to approach feeling more like myself and actually believe in my heart that I can beat this injury. SO, I think that it is a very very important cause because it can actually change the course of recovery for other people, give them hope, and help to give them back their life.

What is it and what does it feel like and what does it do???? Well, the chamber can look like a tube or a little submarine (I affectionately call it ALVIN) and you are put in, compressed ‘to depth’ (this just feels like you are in an airplane, when you have to pop your ears) and then you breathe pure oxygen for a period of time (usually about an hour and a quarter total for me). What does it do? Well, basically, breathing oxygen at a compressed depth gives your entire body (all your cells, all your neurons, all your plasma) the ability to carry oxygen to tissues (normally this job is done by just your red blood cells). When you can get oxygen to tissues, it accelerates metabolism and healing. So, getting LOTS of oxygen to LOTS of tissues, especially the brain, is a great thing in this way. Anyway, it’s not the most flattering look, but because I’m nice I’m attaching pictures of me in the chamber getting treated (no claustrophobics, it’s tiny in there!) 🙂

Of course, this therapy isn’t just used for brain injury- most often it’s used for wound healing (think big wounds like burn victims or stubborn wounds like diabetic lesions) but more recently it is being used for neurological issues, including PTSD, Autism and TBI. In fact, there are some pretty big movements going on now with veterans addressing TBI and more research to use this treatment to help with blast injuries and PTSD, and hopefully reduce the suicide rate in the military.

You wouldn’t believe how many amazing, inspirational people I’ve met through all of the treatments- from stroke victims, to others with paralysis from motor vehicle crashes, to little toddlers with cerebal palsy, to severely autistic adolescents, to other brain injruy victims. You would never know what someone has struggled with and overcome by just looking at them. Thanks so much for playing a part!

Very sincerely,
Aliea (@alieaelan)

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