HBOT in Celebrity Popular Culture

Every now and again a celebrity takes their spotlight and shines it on an under appreciated, or completely unknown, disease or ailment in order to raise awareness for it.  Just as Michael J. Fox increased awareness for Parkinson’s disease or Lance Armstrong’s personal campaign against testicular cancer, it will most likely take the opinion and awareness of celebrities, athletes and unconventional politicians in order to make HBOT a more mainstream therapy.

Between product placements and spokesperson deals, celebrities have long been paid for use of their face and name to sell a product.

In 1986 a photograph was taken of pop-star Michael Jackson sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber.  Rumor had it that the celebrity planned on living to the age of 150 years and had been using the chamber to help with this goal. While we may have to look beyond his classically unconventional methods of living, we should be able to appreciate someone who can take his health into his own hands even while he is sleeping.135

In a 1999 interview with Larry King, actor Nick Nolte reported using hyperbaric chambers to improve his health and prevent strokes.  During the interview Dr. Andrew Wiel, author of Eight Weeks to Better Health, was brought in to provide insight to the science behind HBOT.136

However, a more straightforward and levelheaded celebrity will probably do more good for your brand.  Comedian Richard Pryor made a notable HBOT recovery after accidentally setting himself on fire in 1980.  The accident had left him with severe burns all over his upper body as well as damage caused by smoke inhalation, dehydration and lung damage. He was taken to Sherman Oaks Community Hospital where plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Grossman used HBOT to relieve the comedian’s pain from the burns along with speeding up his healing time.137

Actress Marla Gibbs, who made her mark on the acting world with her role as Florence in The Jeffersons and then went on to accrue hundreds of acting credits, underwent aggressive wound care treatments at the Center for Wound Management & Hyperbaric Medicine at the Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.  She had previously been afflicted with a foot wound that would not heal until a doctor intervened with HBOT. Now she is healed and her recovery has been the spotlight for the center’s television advertisement spots which air in the Greater Los Angeles area and on cable networks such as CNN, TNT and USA.138

Montel Williams, host of The Montel Show, featured a show about the positive effects of HBOT.  His special guest was the mother of Grace Kenitz, a newborn who had a rare genetic disorder and was initially given two years to live.  The disorder caused her to have multiple seizures, blindness and difficulty eating.  At the age of three, Grace began HBOT.  After the tenth treatment she could see and her feeding tube had been removed while she began to gain control of her body. After 20 treatments she could crawl.  Grace’s treatments were an hour in a mild chamber every morning and an hour in a hard chamber at a clinic every afternoon.  Today, she is walking and talking, improving every day.139

On April 24, 2010 actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, retired NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, made a special appearance on the television show, The Doctors, a talk show that offers real medical news from real doctors to the public domain.  The Peetes have a son with autism they were struggling to raise.  Although many therapies and nutritional supplements were used, Holly publicly credited HBOT as the breakthrough therapy that helped her son’s speech. Holly Peete went on to start the Hollyrod Foundation – a group that provides medical, physical, and emotional support to those living with autism and Parkinson’s disease.  Hollyrod also advocates HBOT as an effective treatment for both of these ailments.140

Rodney Peete then published a book entitled Not My Boy!  A Father, a Son, and One Family’s Journey with Autism. Peete appeared on The Oprah Show and did print interviews in Good Housekeeping and about the book.141

Jenny McCarthy was interviewed on the Ellen Degeneres Show and said that both she and Jim Carey have purchased hyperbaric chambers for their health.  McCarthy had also been using the chamber to help treat her own son’s autism.

135Radar Online. Accessed 2 January 2010).
136HGH News: Larry King Live: Nick Nolte and HGH 4 January 2010
137Neubauer, xiii-xvi.
141Rodney Peete’s Journey to accept son’s autism: Accessed 1/7/2010