Most Injured Afghan Veteran Gets Innovative Treatment in Scotland

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We issued a press release on Monday saying “Ben Parkinson, the most injured British soldier to have returned from Afghanistan, arrived at Castle Craig Hospital in the Scottish Borders today for a month’s treatment in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).”

Ben Parkinson MBE, a paratrooper from Doncaster, was almost killed by a landmine blast in Afghanistan in 2006. He survived the blast but suffered severe head injuries, lost both his legs, and broke his back, hips, and ribs. He was unconscious for three months.

There has been a flurry of media interest in HBOT as well as Ben Parkinson who, by all accounts, is a remarkable survivor and has defied the odds on many occasions.

Wales Online published a useful summary of the treatment: “HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressures in an enclosed chamber, causing oxygen to be absorbed by all body fluids, cells, and tissues, even those with blocked or reduced flow.”

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They also picked up on the fact that Ben came to Castle Craig with Steven Thomas, another soldier who was badly injured on exercise in Asia.

Peter McCann, the Chairman of Castle Craig, described the objectives of the two servicemen who came to Castle Craig, in The Scotsman:

“We are hoping that there will be some improvement for them. Flooding the brain with oxygen under pressure allows nutrients and oxygen to flow into damaged cells and revitalize them. Some damage is due to inflammation and oxygen can have an effect in reducing inflammation.”

The treatment is being funded by Pilgrim Bandits, a charity for injured servicemen that believes in “pushing boundaries” according to a spokesperson.

The Press Association reported that Pilgrim Bandits is the first military charity to pay for HBOT: “We have been researching HBOT for some time now believing that the only provision was in the US. Unbeknown to us, the world-leading authority was right here in the UK, HBOT Trust in Scotland. These two lads are the first recipients from the charity and if it goes as well as we hope then we will be funding others to attend too.”

BBC Radio Sheffield did an extended report about the HBOT treatment, interviewing Ben Parkinson and Max Volino, our HBOT Unit Manager. Ben’s mother gives an enthusiastic “review” of the impact of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: “Ben’s had five treatments and we’re told that nerve stimulation happens after between five to ten treatments. And although Ben would like it all […], we can already see incredible differences in him. Muscles on Ben’s body, that had been cold ever since he was injured are now already starting to get pink and warm.” (go to 1h 37min into the program for the full report).

Could this be the moment when the media woke up to the exciting potential of HBOT? This treatment is already used to great effect at Castle Craig, where patients undergoing detox and addiction treatment can benefit from its remarkable healing powers. Although widely appreciated by those who have experienced it, HBOT remains largely unknown to medical practitioners.

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One concern we sometimes hear from people is how they will fund their rehab treatment. The cost of rehab varies depending on what kind of accommodation you choose. You can pay for treatment at Castle Craig privately, or through medical insurance, and some people receive funding through the NHS.

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Residential rehab treatment starts at 4 weeks and can go up to 12+ weeks. Research shows us that the longer you stay in rehab and are part of the residential therapy programme, the longer the likelihood of continued abstinence and stable recovery.

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