Joe Namath has spoke out about the beneficial effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. The former quarterback has sustained at least five concussions during his NFL career to add to the many other occasions he took hard hits to the head.
Repeat battering left the former Super Bowl winning player with memory loss and other issues after his pro career ended in 1977, however he didn’t seek treatment for his traumatic brain injury until decades later. By that time some of his comrades also struggling with the aftershocks of concussions had committed suicide, autopsies on all 5 players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Encephalopathy is a brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head characterized by symptoms such as personality changes, problems with memory and thinking, and behavioral changes including depression and aggression.
Although his own cognitive issues didn’t seem too serious he wasn’t sure, and after seeing some of his friends and associates unfortunate outcome Namath decided to have his own brain examined in 2012; his results were concerning. Initial brain scans showed that his brain cells were not getting enough blood, and there was a dark side of his brain showing little activity on a SPECT scan; the left side of his head is where he would get hit with the hardest shots and fall to the ground and hit his head most commonly.
Later that year in August Namath had his very first session of hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment at Jupiter Medical Center, which he now swears by and has stated that after treatments his brain is sound again: “ My brain scan made me feel so good after the first 40 times. I’ve had a scan nearly every year since 2013, and my brain has stayed healthy.” From August 2012 to March 2013 he underwent HBOT for an hour a day, 5 days a week for 120 treatments, after which new SPECT scans showed dramatic changes of being bright, symmetrical and functioning normally; cognitive testing also greatly improved.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments help to enhance the body’s natural healing processes by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a sealed total body chamber, wherein atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. HBOT can be used for a wide variety of treatments and is approved to treat 13 conditions, however the US FDA has been slow to clear administration to treat brain injuries.
Dr. Al Sears utilizes HyperStem at the SEARS institute for Anti-Aging Medicine. HyperStem treatment combines stem cells with oxygen therapy to grow new blood vessels, it costs $400.00 and is currently not covered by insurance. Sears has commended Namath for being courageous enough to share his health issues with the public saying,”Namath has become an advocate for what heals you after other doctors had told him there was no solution. He had a plan, and when there was no conventional treatment he found this, and it has reversed his condition.”
Namath fully believes in the effectiveness of HBOT, just as he should as he is living proof. Namath also believes the NFL is trying to make strides toward making football safer. “ They’re trying, they have made it safer, but not completely safe from injury whether it be a joint, knee, elbow, or wrists. The brain is floating around, it is not designed to bounce off things. The NFL changed some rules, and has made it safer.”
Namath is on a mission to provide concussion victims a reason for hope being attainable beyond divine intervention. September 2014 the Joe Namath Neurological Research Center was launched at the Jupiter Medical Center and announced the goal of raising $10 million to run a clinical trial of HBOT on 100 subjects suffering from symptoms of brain damage. Namath, wasn’t paid for the naming rights, nor is he financially partnered with the center, he has only reserved the right to invest if the therapy becomes commercialized one day.
Namath, who is basically patient zero, frequently advocates to try and generate money to offset costs for patients who can’t afford treatments. Senator Tom Wright is also advocating to get Florida state legislators to fund HBOT treatments for their 1.6 million Veterans as Texas, California, and Oklahoma have already done to treat persistent post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms resistant to standard options. Although this is another “off-label” use, the treatment is also showing great promise. Treatments are occurring under supervision and will be monitored by the VA as part of a multisite clinical demonstration research project to examine more fully HBOT for those diagnosed with PTSD for potential usage to treat a larger number of Veterans.