The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week that it would begin offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy to some veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, despite a lack of evidence that it works or being approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for PTSD.
The VA conceded it was an “off-label” use of the treatment, which uses pressurized hyperbaric chambers to send higher oxygen levels to patients. All therapies will be supervised by a physician, and the VA and Defense Department are planning more research to study its effectiveness, the agency said.
VA Secretary David Shulkin has cited suicide prevention as his No. 1 clinical priority and promised lawmakers “big, bold steps” in that end. In a statement Wednesday, Shulkin said the VA must “explore every avenue” and “be open to new ideas.”