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NFL Hall of Fame member Joe Namath hopes groundbreaking brain treatment goes beyond football

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jul 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 18:23:34-04

Joe Namath is one of the most iconic players in pro football history.

He's read the New York Times article on football players and brain injuries.

"To see the old timers or the guys ahead of me, the guys after me, that have gone through these hits and are now paying the price for it," Namath says.

The Times looked at a study testing 111 brains of dead NFL players. All but one tested positive for CTE, a brain disease linked to blows to the head.

Namath is hoping treatment he went through at Jupiter Medical Center will one day help minimize the impact of brain injuries on others.

It's a clinical trial and Namath guarantees the treatment helped him and he believes it can help those well beyond football.

Like Katie. September 27, 2003 is an important date in her life.

For years she a hard time remembering why it was so important. "It was spotty at best," She says.

It's the day a truck blindsided her as she tried to cross an intersection.

"I woke up in a hospital room by myself," she says, "The first thing I noticed was a window full of cards."

She was in a coma for weeks with a long list of injuries. "Two fractures and a complete break in my jaw, three fractured ribs, one which lacerated my liver, one puncturing the right side of my lung," Katie remembers.

She also had major damage to her brain. "I was living in a fog. Constant fog," She says.

For more than a decade, just minor thoughts were a struggle for her.

Then she entered a clinical trial at Jupiter Medical Center using hyperbolic oxygen therapy to help people with traumatic brain injuries.

She did more than a hundred hour-long sessions inside the chamber.

That fog started to clear.

"I would tell people it's like seeing everything in HD. Very high definition," She says.

"I'm happy we have found this. This is bigger than sports," Namath says.

The Hall of Fame player went through the same therapy. In fact, the room where the chambers are located is named after him.

Namath walked away from his NFL career with, not only an iconic Super Bowl win, but multiple concussions.

"You had your bell rung and that was just the part of the athlete's life," Namath says, "We had no idea it was a damaging blow to the brain."

Before Namath underwent therapy, Doctors found part of his brain was not getting the proper blood flow, a side where he took a lot of hits during his career.

After spending time in the chamber, X-rays showed those parts of Namath's brain woke up.

"if we can get them into the trial and treat them and can change their lives. We're looking at 60 to 70 years ahead of them at a totally different life," said Dr. Lee Fox.

The doctor, who helps run the clinical trial, explained how doctors increase air pressure while the patients are in the chamber.

"Pure oxygen would fill the chamber at a higher pressure than room pressure," Dr, Fox explains.

The goal now for doctors is for this therapy to help patients from all backgrounds.

From a person just trying to drive home. To a football legend. 

Dr, Fox stresses more work needs to be done but so far the trial's results are promising. Doctors have treated 15 patients so far and plan to treat around 100.