Newly released autopsy data show that actor Robin Williams, who committed suicide on August 11, 2014, was suffering from Lewy body dementia (LBD) — a progressive disorder that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning, and independent function. The disease, which affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans, is caused by protein deposits called Lewy bodies in brain cells that govern thinking, memory, and motor control.

Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia can include visual hallucinations, movement disorders, cognitive problems, sleep difficulties, and depression. But because LBD is difficult to recognize and differentiate from other disorders, it remains widely underdiagnosed.

Robin Williams’ wife has indicated that the actor did not know he had LBD prior to his death.

My experience has shown that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has helped control the symptoms of LBD, and would probably have benefited Williams.

Williams could have undergone a SPECT brain scan, which we have used to document damage in military veterans who suffered traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of those veterans had been told that their symptoms were psychological based on CT and MRI scans.

SPECT brain scans actually look at brain function. In the vets we have evaluated, that function has usually been abnormal, demonstrating that it is organic injury to the brain, not psychological problems, producing their symptoms.

We have also used SPECT brain scan to document response to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A number of the vets we treated with HBOT had attempted suicide prior to receiving the treatment. To my knowledge, after undergoing HBOT there have been no attempted suicides by in these patients.

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