Today, Joe Namath is passionately devoted to a cause with an enthusiasm equaling his days as an outstanding quarterback for Coach Paul Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide and later for the New York Jets under Weeb Ewbank.
Now, though, that passion is off the field. Joe is touting the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) by doctors at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida. The bold trend setter approached a golfing buddy, Dr. Lee A. Fox, Chief of Radiology, in August of 2012 to intercede on a serious issue affecting not only the football community but the general public – military veterans, car accident victims, stroke patients and others searching for a decrease in symptoms from TBI. Namath, the initial patient, is a true believer of the treatment provided by the neurological research center bearing his name. He is diligently seeking funds and donations to assist the initiative. More importantly, he hopes to promote awareness of the clinical trial program established to improve the health for millions of people suffering from the affliction.
The hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy program originally designed for wound care was in the infant stages of testing for injuries and diseases of the brain linked to head trauma. Dr. Barry M. Miskin, Principal Investigator and Dr. Lee A. Fox, Sub-Investigator, are the two co-medical directors of the Joe Namath Neurological Research Center. They espouse oxygenation as the hopeful path to stimulate the healing process for brain injuries.
’BAMA Magazine/Bama.Mag.com spoke to the legendary Alabama quarterback to gain a perspective on the TBI issue and learn the positive effects of the treatment. Here is that interview:
Why did you become involved with the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
“There are questions that needed to be answered. I got involved because my teammates and other players in the game were affected. The guys with tragic endings got my attention - Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, and Mike Webster to mention a few. Doctors attributed the damage to brain trauma. I first talked and listened to a New York Jets teammate, Dave Herman, sharing with me, Winston Hill and John Dockery about how he was carrying a lot of fear and doubts with him. He kept forgetting things and was going through some mental phases that he had not experienced prior to that time.
With the news of concussions and studies being done earlier, I became not only empathetic and compassionate about the work but I thought it behooved me to find out about my own case. I plan on being around to share life with my children and grandchildren. I wondered if there was a way to deal with TBI because I know I had at least five concussions.
They had been using the hyperbaric chambers to treat other ailments and wounds for people. We started the brain trauma study to find out if the combination of the hyperbaric chamber and pure oxygen was the successful formula.”
How have the 120 treatments improved the quality of your life?
“My brain started showing improvement after the first 40 dives. The cognitive tests improved as well. The brain cleared up and the blood was flowing everywhere. The cells are restored and the brain is maintaining the symmetrical flow of the blood on both sides and to the back. My last treatment was March of 2013.
The checkup scans done every six months with nuclear imaging have been beautiful. My last SPECT (Single Photo Emission Computed Tomography) scan was in September of this year. The pictures clearly show as well as the tests that areas where blood flow was once diminished is now getting to these cells and has maintained itself over time since the treatments. I’m thrilled about it. The tests taken before I had treatment showed dark and gray colors compared to the imaging of the brain receiving the blood flow – the bright red, purple, the yellow instead of the dark gray on the left side of my Temple and the rear of the brain.
We gave the Federal Drug Administration all the scans. I saw them. I’m a believer. I was feeling pretty good before I had the treatment but I always questioned could I be sharper. I would leave the kitchen to go to the living room and forgot why I came to the living room. I am up to my resistance on my workout machine. I’ve been sleeping better and my dreams are more vivid. There is more activity for me mentally even at night in the dreams.”
How did your results contribute to further research?
“We had to show my study to the Federal Drug Administration. They agreed the results looked good but they want to see a study of another 100 patients. They approved our research protocol. We want people from different ages and all walks of life who may qualify for the program.
This is just not restricted to athletes. People can contact the clinic through the website (link below) to see how they qualify and can get help.
They may not be able to afford it. What we’re trying to do is raise the money that is going to be necessary for the clinical trial of 100 people. We are trying to raise funds around the county. One of our goals is to help raise the money for those in the study of 100 who can’t afford it. The insurance companies around the country do not recognize the treatment yet.
The completion of our study along with submitting the information to the FDA can help accomplish our goal of recognition by the insurance companies. This study deserves to be done because it’s going to be so helpful to so many people.”
For information on TBI treatment and ways to make donations to:
The Joe Namath Neurological Research Center, click on the link: