Delray Beach-based Help our Wounded or HOW Foundation has just turned three and completed more than 1,000 hyperbaric treatments for people who sustained head injuries or suffer from ailments like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
And it celebrated its milestones last month with one of its signature events “Pinball Wizard,” a night of pinball at Silverball Museum.
The foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities by advocating for and providing access to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Executive Director of the nonprofit Sarah Crane knows first hand how helpful the treatment can be for those suffering from a head injury or from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her professional research in working for a hyperbaric chamber clinic and after she received the treatment herself after she was in a car accident.
Crane studied in London prior to moving to Delray where she received a masters in cognitive neuroscience. She moved to Delray and worked at a hyperbaric clinic as the Director of Research. The clinic was one of 13 centers in the country to be selected to participate in a study that looked at the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on PTSD in veterans.
She said she was excited to jump into the work, but the study left the clinics to come up with their own funding to cover the treatments, which she said can cost up to $40,000 per person.
“It’s not exactly something every veteran can afford,” she said.
Luckily, she said an angel donor sponsored the first five people to go through the treatment and after she founded the HOW foundation as a way to sustain funding the treatments.
The nonprofit has helped pay for 1,000 treatments and the longest anyone has been on a waiting list to receive treatment has been two months, she said.
“As we turn 3, we are really excited about building our presence in the South Florida community,” she said.
At first, she said it was hard to identify veterans to receive the treatment. So the nonprofit decided to help anyone wounded.
“We want to help anybody who needs access to this therapy,” she said.
She said she needed it herself after she was in a car accident. She said she suffered from insomnia, had a nonstop headache, had trouble remembering things and felt like she was in a fog.
“I had sticky notes everywhere,” she said. “I forgot how to tie a bow on the front of my shirt. It’s extremely terrifying.”
She said after a few treatments she was able to return back to her daily routine without the insomnia and brain fog.
Treatments last about an hour. You sit in a chamber that has compressed air and relax by watching a movie, napping or listening to music.
Crane said the number of sessions a person will need varies, but it is typically a minimum of 10 sessions.
“It’s a gradual effect,” she said.
She said the nonprofit is looking to continue raising money to allow more people to receive the treatments. Their other event “Dine for Veterans” netted more than $18,000. The event allowed people to dine at restaurants where some of the proceeds were donated to the foundation. The foundation also secured a matching grant.
“We have been really fortunate to be able to help people which has been great,” she said.
For more information, visit http://howfoundationsf.org