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USF Health granted initial $14 million for traumatic brain injury research study


Harry van Loveren, MD, chair of the USF Health Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, and interim chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, greets Paul Renner, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, during Renner's visit to the University of South Florida campuses.  USF Health recently received $14 million grant from the Florida Legislature to study the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for Florida veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with traumatic brain injury.  Dr. van Loveren is the principal investigator of the study, which will begin recruiting participants in 2024.

Researchers in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine will conduct a clinical research study to help determine if hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can ease the symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Florida’s veteran, active duty, and reserve service members.
Through a grant from the Florida Legislature with an initial allocation of $14 million, USF Health researchers will conduct a clinical trial to study the efficacy of HBOT on individuals with symptoms after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) with or without symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study seeks to clarify if HBOT will help individuals recover after TBI.
The USF Health-based clinical trial for HBOT will be a five-year, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study – the gold standard in academic research. The initial phase of the clinical trial is underway. Actions include convening a national advisory panel of experts and collaborating with the James A Haley Veteran’s Hospital and other community leaders. The clinical trial is being led by Harry van Loveren, MD, professor and chair of the USF Health Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair.
“Through this grant, Florida is making a serious investment in definitive research that is designed to benefit all veterans in all states at its conclusion,” Dr. van Loveren said. “It’s great that the State of Florida is initiating a project that can have such broad benefits across the United States.”
Dr. van Loveren said the USF Health neurosurgery research group has spent years looking at TBI from a variety of scientific perspectives and has been conducting TBI-focused research for almost 20 years, producing nearly 100 peer-reviewed papers surrounding the neuroscience associated with TBI.  In addition, the team has conducted numerous smaller state-funded clinical trials to study the effectiveness of HBOT in those who suffer from TBI.  
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment to fill the blood with enough oxygen that allows tissues to repair. HBOT is well known for treating decompression sickness, serious infections, and air bubbles in blood vessels.

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USF Health News highlights the great work of the faculty, staff and students across the four health colleges – Morsani College of Medicine, College of Public Health, College of Nursing and Taneja College of Pharmacy – and the multispecialty physicians group. USF Health, an integral part of the University of South Florida, integrates research, education and health care to reach our shared value - making life better.