Arizona moves forward with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for veteran - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Arizona moves forward with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for veterans

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TUCSON- Governor Doug Ducey has signed off on legislation expressing support for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The State of Arizona is allotting $25,000 to the group known as Healing Arizona Veterans to expand its private-public partnership approach toward raising $600,000 for providing HBOT to 50 veterans.

“The message it's sending is that the state is now behind us,” said Sa’ad Allawi, who serves on the board of Healing Arizona Veterans.

The charitable contributions will be used to treat Arizona veterans through HBOT at two six-person chambers located in Tucson and Cave Creek.

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the first treatment that's ever been shown to heal a brain injury condition,” said Dr. Carol Henricks, owner of NorthStar Hyperbaric in Tucson.

HBOT involves patients breathing in 100 percent pure medicated oxygen through a mask while sitting in an enclosed chamber for one-hour dives (sessions).

Continuous treatment helps stimulates the body’s healing process of neurological and cognitive functions without the need for prescribed drugs or surgery.

Although not federally recognized among the 15 approved treatments, HBOT has aided nearly 2,300 American veterans who had traumatic brain injuries.

Robin O’Bannon, an 18-year U.S. Air Force veteran and mother of two boys, can attest to the positive effects of HBOT.

"Speaking from a veteran’s perspective, there's nothing more meaningful, nothing more powerful than getting your life back,” O’Bannon said.

O’Bannon’s road to recovery began with a boom. She served during operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Southern Watch.  

“There was an explosion above my head as a scud missile was intercepted by a patriot missile,” O’Bannon said.

Years later, O’Bannon experienced a myriad of negative effects ranging from physical incapacitation to experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

"When you get to a place where you lose your greatest asset, which is your health and you are trapped in a body that doesn't work, things can get really dark really quickly,” she said.

Everything changed when one day she learned about the option of HBOT while working as a radio host.

Entering the NorthStar chamber for the first time would spark a lifesaving path toward recovery.

"Do I believe in miracles? Oh, I absolutely do. I have to tell you it has made such an amazing difference in my life,” O’Bannon said.

Healing Arizona Veterans hopes to raise enough funds by August to provide treatment to at least 10 veterans.

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