Wounded hero Ben arrives for pioneering treatment

Ben Parkinson
Ben Parkinson

Doctors have told how they hope to boost war hero Ben Parkinson’s speech and memory.

Paratrooper Ben, of Bessacarr. thought to have survived the worst ever battlefield injuries in Afghanistan, is to receive an oxygen treatment in Scotland that could help his speech and memory.

The 30-year-old lost both legs and suffered more than 40 injuries, including brain damage which affected his memory and speech, in a landmine blast in 2006.

He and veteran Stephen Thomas have now arrived at Castle Craig Hospital in Peeblesshire for a month’s Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) treatment funded by Pilgrim Bandits, a charity for injured servicemen.

Peter McCann, chairman of Castle Craig, said: “We are hoping that there will be some improvement for them. Flooding the brain with oxygen under pressure allows nutrients and oxygen to flow into damage cells and revitalise them.

“Some damage is due to inflammation and oxygen can have an effect in reducing inflammation.

HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressures in an enclosed chamber, causing oxygen to be absorbed by all body fluids, cells and tissues, even those with blocked or reduced flow.

This increased flow of oxygen is said to stimulate and restore function to damaged cells and organs, including those of the liver and brain.

Dr Max Volino, the manager of Castle Craig’s HBOT unit, said: “We are hoping for minor improvements in Ben’s speech and memory.”

The Lance Bombardier, who carried the Olympic Torch through his home town of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in 2012, was made an MBE in 2013.

He was also one of a group of injured veterans who took part in a gruelling trek in Norway that year.

The expedition, organised by Pilgrim Bandits, retraced the footsteps of the Second World War heroes of Telemark to mark the 70th anniversary of the mission.

During his time at Castle Craig he will receive two HBOT treatments a day.

Mr Thomas, 40, from Cardiff, suffered brain injuries while on manoeuvres in Thailand around six years ago, and will also receive the treatment.

Pilgrim Bandits said it is the first military charity to pay for HBOT.

A spokesman said: “We have been researching HBOT for some time now believing that the only provision was in the US.

“Unbeknown to us, the world leading authority was right here in the UK, HBOT Trust in Scotland. These two lads are the first recipients from the charity and if it goes as well as we hope then we will be funding others to attend too.