Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) is collaborating with NexGen Hyperbaric, LLC to support research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of physical and mental conditions. The in-development Center for Behavioral Health on WesternU’s Oregon campus will be the site of the hyperbaric research chamber being donated by NexGen.
Hyperbaric therapy has been used for decades in the treatment of physical wounds and musculoskeletal injuries from degeneration and sports related activities. Through this new opportunity, NexGen Hyperbaric and WesternU will focus on cellular research and clinical trials in the use of hyperbaric therapy for treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States with more than 60,000 deaths annually, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 6 percent of the American population will have suffered from PTSD at some point in their lives and about 12 million American adults suffer from PTSD during any given year. Current research in hyperbaric oxygen therapy has shown promise in the treatment of TBI and PTSD. Furthering evidence-based research in hyperbaric treatment will position WesternU’s Center for Behavioral Health and NexGen Hyperbaric on the forefront of this promising field.
“WesternU is honored to be chosen as the research site for this incredible advancing technology,” said WesternU President Robin Farias-Eisner, MD, PhD, MBA. “Our focus on mental health is a priority and it is a privilege to be working toward the latest advancements and treatment for debilitating conditions such as TBI and PTSD.”
WesternU’s ability to strategically collaborate with key public and private institutions that focus on behavioral health care is evident with NexGen now facilitating onsite research efforts in hyperbaric treatment of TBI and PTSD.
NexGen Hyperbaric President and CEO Jonathan Rotella consults with professional athletes who are injured or are trying to stay in top physical condition. He currently works with several NFL teams in treating players for soft tissue and bone injuries, concussion, and general recovery.
“I could not be more excited about our collaboration with WesternU,” Rotella said. “We will be working together to support research in vivo and ex vivo for individuals suffering from serious brain injury and PTSD. We believe hyperbaric therapy makes a significant impact on the prognosis for these conditions.”
WesternU’s vision for the Behavioral Health Center is to be a leader in interprofessional behavioral health education and research. According to the 2023 report by Mental Health America, Oregon ranked second to last in the nation for mental health care, indicating the highest prevalence of mental illness and lowest rates of access to care. The center will explore new ways to deliver mental health care by improving access and creating interprofessional educational programs that teach future health care and behavioral health care workers a holistic approach to addressing mental illness. A signature point for the program will be its focus on community, with a goal to serve all people regardless of severity of illness, economic status, race, sexual orientation, or age.
The WesternU Oregon campus in Lebanon, Oregon was founded in 2011 with the opening of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest. COMP-Northwest proudly boasts more than 700 physician graduates who are now in residency or medical practice across the nation. The College of Health Sciences-Northwest was founded in 2021 with its inaugural class of Doctor of Physical Therapy students and will launch its Doctor of Occupational Therapy program in summer 2023. WesternU Oregon was recently gifted 150 acres on the Santiam River in Lebanon to build out a new graduate health sciences university campus. New programs slated for development include the Center for Behavioral Health and other health professions needed to meet the growing needs of Oregon’s health care work force.