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Tucson veteran with PTSD swears by hyperbaric therapy, hopes to - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Tucson veteran with PTSD swears by hyperbaric therapy, hopes to make it commonplace

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TUCSON -  An area veteran said he has his life back after he struggled with PTSD, thanks to a seldom used treatment that is common practice in other parts of the world.

He and a non-profit group are now working to make hyperbaric oxygen therapy more accessible for veterans in Arizona.

Patients receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy sit in a pressurized chamber, usually for one hour at a time, while breathing in 100 percent oxygen.

It's meant to promote healing. Some injured veterans who have access to it swear by the treatment.

Injured by a roadside bomb while fighting in Afghanistan, Chris Liby came home to battle PTSD.

"Just down and depressed all the time," said Liby

He tried different medications with little success. A friend suggested hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

"I decided to try it," he said. “It's oxygen and a little bit of pressure on your body. What could it hurt?”

He started visiting Dr. Carol Henricks at NorthStar Hyperbaric near the Foothills Mall. Liby said he started to feel results after 10 sessions.

"My pain had dropped dramatically," said Liby. "I was able to cut my medication in half."

He would go on to do a total of 40 sessions. 

“My PTSD symptoms really dramatically dropped," said Liby. "My headaches have been reduced. I had headaches every day."  

This type of therapy is not FDA approved for brain injuries, so it's not prescribed by VA doctors. Liby would have had to pay out of pocket for the treatment.

"It’s around $4,000," said Charles Spillar, Executive Director of Healing Arizona Veterans.

Spillar’s group was able to collect enough donations to pay for Liby's entire hyperbaric treatment, and nearly 20 others statewide.

"You've got a veteran committing suicide every 65 minutes," said Spillar. "If I was in congress, I would say 'We've got to find a solution'. We know we can save lives by doing this."

Healing Arizona Veterans is working to get a new bill passed that would allow veterans with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries free access to hyperbaric chambers. A similar bill was passed in Oklahoma last year. 

To support Healing Arizona Veterans, visit healingarizonaveterans.org.

For more information, visit healingarizonaveterans.org or find them on Facebook at Healing Arizona Veterans.

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