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Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments (HBOT)

For Cory Michael Foley

Contact Info: cmfoley@excite.com

7314 W Charter Oak Road * Peoria, Arizona, USA 85381-5365

623-878-8934, phone * 623-412-0670, fax


Corey Foley and his mother are ready and awaiting the start of one of his 91 total treatments in 1999. Although Cory has severe brain damage (over 75%) he showed improvement in a number of areas that his parents owe directly to HBOT.

Background on Cory

Cory Michael Foley was born on January 5, 1996 – about 3 ½ weeks prior to his due date. His entry into the world was a very difficult and scary one. Cory was completely lifeless when he made his entrance. For us it was the scariest moment of our lives. It took the longest 1 minute and 15 seconds before he was finally revived by the medical staff and breathing on his own. Little did we know at that time, how much damage had been done in the few hours prior to his birth. Except for some early concern about Cory’s oxygen levels his stay in the hospital was a routine one.

The first two weeks of life with Cory were full of the wonder that a newborn baby brings to a home. He was an ideal baby – he ate and slept well and appeared to have a gentle disposition. At two weeks of age, however, everything changed. Cory became increasingly distressed with each new day. He would cry incessantly for up to 18 hours a day – nothing we did could relieve him of whatever pain he was going through except for his own sheer exhaustion. It became a vicious cycle of feeding him when he had gained some rest and trying to calm him all the other hours so that he could find some peace.

In early May 1996 we met with the neurologist. At the end of our consultation he told us that he knew within the first five minutes that something was wrong with Cory. He ordered MRI and EEG exams to be done as quickly as possible. On May 6, 1996 the two tests were performed. On May 8, 1996, we received the test results that would forever change our lives – Cory was severely brain damaged. The clinical term was "cystic encephalomalasia". The neurologist estimated that roughly 50% of his brain cells were "dead". A MRI two years later showed more clearly the actual damage – Cory’s brain damage was over 75%. The result of the damage has left Cory with cerebral palsy, seizures, cortical visual impairment and a complete lack of active motor control – he is a three year old limited to the abilities of a three-day old baby.

What Was Done for Cory Prior to Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments

Once the initial shock had lifted we immediately began to assess what we could do for Cory. The neurologist told us that no amount of therapies would get Cory better – his prognosis was a life of complete dependence. As his parents, the only course of action we could take was to ignore the doctor’s recommendations and provide Cory with whatever glimmer of hope we had to offer him. Although he has been on a number of different medications to help deal with his neurological discomfort, the initial drug – Phenobarbital – was an absolute gift from heaven. It made a huge difference in his ability to deal with the world. Fortunately, we got Cory into the right programs immediately which included a wonderfully supportive neurologist, Dr. Theodore Tarby of Children’s Rehabilitative Services. Since summer 1996 Cory has been receiving vision, physical, occupational and speech therapies weekly at The Foundation for Blind Children.

In 1997, with our neurologist’s approval, we put Cory onto the ketogenic diet to see if it could control his 100+ daily seizures with diet instead of medication. He was hospitalized in June of 1997 in order to bring him into a ketotic state. Since that time we have kept him on the diet with its high fat content (90% of his calories come from fat). Cory has gone from suffering over 100 seizures daily to where we have maybe seen 3 or 4 in over two years! For anyone who doubts that miracles happen, they need to speak to us! Cory has continued to amaze Dr. Tarby with how well he has responded to all of the different treatments and medications given to him over time. He’ll be on the Ketogenic diet for approximately three years total.

Our Introduction to Hyperbaric Oxygen – Fall 1998

I heard about a treatment over the radio for people who had suffered strokes or traumatic brain injuries. I sent for the information. It talked about hyperbaric oxygen treatments -- administering pure oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber under 1- 2 atmospheres (equivalent to going 10 – 20 feet below water). We were shocked and amazed at the results we saw on the videotape. People with brain injuries sustained over eight years ago were getting out of their wheelchairs and walking after maybe 20 treatments in the hyperbaric chamber!

We immediately began exploring for clinics in the Southwestern United States and found Rapid Recovery Hyperbarics in San Bernardino, CA. After an initial visit in March 1999, we scheduled our time with Susan to begin on May 1, 1999.

Our hopes prior to beginning treatment were the following:

  • Cory might be able to handle different foods rather than the soft foods he is now fed,
  • He would gain some control over his head that could potentially enable him to sit on his own at some point in the future,
  • In conjunction with the Ketogenic diet, Cory would be absolutely 100% seizure free for the rest of his life off of the diet (he will begin to be weaned off the diet during the second half of 1999),
  • His sleep patterns would drastically improve (his sleeping is still very reminiscent of that of a newborn baby),
  • The vision center of his brain would be able to better process what it was receiving,
  • The ventricles that connect his brain with the rest of his body would be improved to the point that we could forever hold off having to have shunts put into Cory’s brain to help drain the excess fluid that can build up in brain damaged people.
We began our treatments on May 1 and ended them on July 20, 1999. We initially did a round of 40 treatments, took a two-week break, completed another 40 treatments by beginning of July and then finished with an additional 11 treatments for a total of 91 treatments.

What we have seen during the treatments and since we finished:

  • Prior to treatment, Cory’s eyes moved very randomly without purpose. Since shortly after the start of HBOT Cory’s vision has been much more purposeful. Although he still does not focus on objects intently, he is able to track movement in his field of vision. We believe that his brain has healed to the extent that it is processing the signals from the optic nerve with much greater clarity and purpose.
  • Around the 60th HBOT, Cory went through what is referred to a "personality change". It was very drastic and lasted about 8 – 10 days. However, during and since that time, his sleep pattern has been the best that it has ever been. For approximately the past month, he has gone to bed without much or any struggle and has slept as much as 9 hours without waking up enough to cry out to let us know that he needs to be repositioned for comfort. Even on his best nights in the past, we struggled to get him to bed and would then have to get up a couple of times in the night to comfort and reposition him and he would only sleep 7 – 9 hours total. He now has been sleeping fairly routinely for 9 – 12 hours per night!
  • The diet that we have been feeding him has been fairly bland and smooth in texture. Near the end of the treatments we began trying more flavorful foods and ones with more texture or consistency. He has handled them well and we view it as a good start toward more and better variety of foods in his daily meal plans.
  • During the latter part of the HBOT’s Cory has been attempting more head control – especially when he is in his wheelchair traveling in the van. What we are witnessing is his moving his head from side to side with short periods of it coming to rest in the middle of his shoulders while facing forward.
  • Due to Cory’s inactive physical state, his legs, primarily his calves, have been on the smaller side. Since HBOT’s he has "beefed up" and his legs look in much better proportion to the rest of him.
  • And, an unexpected benefit has been that Cory has been much better at initializing and completing bowel movements on his own! We are sure that there are many parents of disabled children who can see this as a very positive thing! You find yourself answering people’s inquiries about Cory’s progress with, "And he’s pooping on his own with regularity!" (no pun intended….).
  • We do not yet know what, if any, improvement has happened with the ventricles leading to Cory’s brain. We are meeting with a neurosurgeon and our neurologist in the next month to review where we are. We believe that another MRI will be ordered at the time of our appointments and that we will get our third look at Cory’s brain – one that will hopefully substantiate the improvements that we are noticing in Cory.

Conclusion

We went into our initial treatments with the understanding that we may see little or no improvement in Cory. But, we knew that they could not hurt him and as his parents we had to give this our best effort as it was and is the most optimistic form of treatment for someone such as our son. We are very pleased with the results we have seen to this point and believe that Cory could further benefit from on-going, routine treatments. We also have nothing but kind words and praise for Susan and Pat Rodriguez and the wonderful care and concern that they show each and every one of their clients. You could not choose a better place for you and/or your loved ones to receive hyperbaric oxygen treatments!

Chuck and Lori Foley

Parents to Cory