PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A different type of treatment is giving new hope for people recovering from a stroke.
Doctors in the Philadelphia area are studying it and our Joyce Evans spoke to the first patient in the new clinical trials.
49-year-old Mike Dooley suffered a stroke during heart surgery a little more than a year ago. He was placed into an induced coma for weeks.
"It is a shocking thing to wake up and be paralyzed," Mike explained, "I lost 100 pounds of weight and was very sick - near death."
The athletic 8th grade science teacher, football and wrestling coach kept fighting. His family, friends, and neighbors continued to cheer him on.
Like so many others, Mike needed rehabilitation beyond what his health insurance covered. He maxed out on physical therapy and his homecare and transportation to and from doctors and sessions were out of pocket.
His sister Noreen set up a GoFundMe page and found an unusual study about to startup nearby, at the Wound Healing Center of Abington Jefferson Health.
Mike became patient number one in trials that combined hyperbaric therapy with physical rehab.
"Oh I would do anything, I would light my head on fire if I thought it would help me get better," Mike said.
Mike underwent 30 90-minute treatments in six weeks inside a pressurized chamber filled with 100% oxygen at twice our atmospheric pressure.
"And it sits at the tissue delivering almost 1,000 times more oxygen for up to 18 hours after the treatment," said Dr. Rob Jubelirer, "We do see improvement -- for weeks and months after the treatment."
Dr. Jubelirer says it's still a slow process but the hope is to one day make hyperbaric therapy standard treatment along with physical rehab to heal damage caused by a stroke faster and maybe even better.
"I'm looking down a tunnel and there's light there now at the end of it," Mike said.