Paul G. Harch M.D. 2013
At last, the long-awaited (22 years) chronicle of Dan Greathouse’s amazing story of neurorehabilitation has been published. Packed into 118 short pages is a story of the dramatic deterioration of a successful mans’ life to the nadir of a jail cell and wrongful psychiatric commitment and then back to the triumphant resurrected heights of personal, professional, and life accomplishments, culminating in the publication of his book. It is a book and story that can only be described in superlatives as Dan recounts the extremes of life experiences he traversed in a matter of 4 short months. It’s implications for neurorehabilitation are profound and far-reaching and mark the birth of modern neurorehabilitation with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Dan Greathouse was a successful junior high school math and English teacher, principal of the night GED school, accomplished musician who played in night clubs as an avocation, and a deeply spiritual individual. As an active adventurous thirty-three year old man Dan was lured to SCUBA diving and suffered an air embolism and brain decompression sickness. Afflicted with abnormalities of gait, balance, cognition, and emotion, he was no longer able to teach, speak properly, play his musical instruments, operate a simple computer keyboard, or even walk in a straight line.
Misdiagnosed by dozens of physicians and psychologists, despite an abnormal EEG and IQ and cognitive testing that showed he was functioning in the average to severely impaired range, this valedictorian of his college class was told his difficulties were all due to sudden psychiatric and emotional deterioration of unknown cause. Suicidal over his severely injured brain, he was committed to a psychiatric hospital, taken to jail and accused of murder, and finally judicially committed.
In the depths of despair Dan’s premature release from the psychiatric commitment was secured and he was brought to New Orleans to receive a lower dose hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocol developed by Drs. Harch, Gottlieb, and Van Meter that was based on work done by Dr. Richard Neubauer.
The story of Dan’s recovery while in New Orleans from untreatable chronic neurological injury is meticulously recounted by Dan from the eyes and mind of a person without hope. Follow him through this riveting story of inner emotion and despair where the only acceptable solution appeared to be suicide. Dan’s experience is the seminal event that marks the birth of neurorehabilitation with hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the United States. His story illuminates the fate of so many people in society whose lives take a fateful turn to the worse, instantaneously, after a brain injury of any cause. Poorly characterized, misdiagnosed, and finally ostracized by all but family members brain-injured individuals begin a solitary course of despair and dysfunction understood by no one other than those who experience the same.
Read Dan’s story, appreciate how easy it is for any individual to befall the same fate, experience his solitary journey, the ray of hope, and then the recovery to function as Dan gets his brain back. In the process you will understand how hyperbaric oxygen therapy, especially early in the course of a brain injury, has the power to restore someone’s life. For a similar example, see the story of Curt Allen, treated for severe traumatic brain injury four months after injury and failure of maximum medical therapy to advance his recovery.