Tucson neurologist, wounded veterans say hyperbaric oxygen therapy is changing lives

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Dr. Carol Hendricks of NorthStar Hyperbaric, Patriot Clinic and Healing Arizona Veterans (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dr. Carol Hendricks of NorthStar Hyperbaric, Patriot Clinic and Healing Arizona Veterans (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Patients breathe pure medical grade oxygen through a mask. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Patients breathe pure medical grade oxygen through a mask. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The hyperbaric chamber Hendricks has is large enough for six people to undergo treatment at the same time. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The hyperbaric chamber Hendricks has is large enough for six people to undergo treatment at the same time. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

An Arizona doctor says hyperbaric oxygen therapy is changing lives for veterans and people suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I sat down with veterans going through the treatment who say without it, they might not be here today.

U.S. Army veteran Chris Liby says hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) saved his life after surviving an IED explosion while he was deployed to the Middle East in 2008.

He says that before finding the treatment, his life was a mess.

"I couldn't really function, couldn't remember anything, had problems remembering my kids' names; it was pretty bad," Liby explained. "I went from many, many medications -- I can't even remember how many, around 20 -- down to now I'm on two."

U.S. Marine Bud Leazenby, a combat veteran who served in Vietnam, shared a very similar story.

"It gets so intense on the inside, this becomes a possibility, putting a gun to your head," he said.

For decades, Leazenby suffered from severe PTSD, but after 90 or so hyperbaric treatments, he says it's hardly noticeable.

"The blood that's been, neuropathways, whatever in my head, this is just me describing... it's like it's been flushed out, opened up, it's like I'm operating with a full deck again," Leazenby said.

HBOT saturates the body with oxygen and according to neurological specialist Dr. Carol Hendricks, dramatically enhances healing with a focus on traumatic brain injury.

"On a basic level, over multiple hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments, oxygen flow stimulates the body’s own natural healing processes at the cellular level, plus it promotes the release of stem cells from the bone marrow," explains the website of NorthStar Hyperbaric, Hendricks' Tucson practice.

Patients are hooked up to breathing masks and inhale pure medical grade oxygen. The chamber in which they sit is massive, large enough to accommodate six people comfortably.

Hendricks had her building constructed around it.

"So this is something you wholeheartedly believe in?" I asked.

"Absolutely," Hendricks answered. "The science is there, yes."

Hendricks aims to one day have her hyperbaric oxygen therapy and her Patriot Clinic, a grassroots organization that offers the treatment, work alongside the VA to make HBOT a standard option. The treatment is expensive and tough for veterans to afford without fundraising or insurance.     

The suggested 80 hourlong treatments will run you around $10,000.

Hendricks, along with a nonprofit called Healing Arizona Veterans, is working to make this treatment available and possible.

"We're really looking for that paradigm shift, where we're talking about healing the brain versus just medicating symptoms," Hendricks explained. "I believe that we will be able to make this a reality within the next five years."

[ONLINE: PatriotClinicMovement.org | NorthstarHBOT.com | TreatNow.org | HealingArizonaVeterans.org]

HBOT is not just for veterans. It's designed to treat traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI.

"NorthStar Hyperbaric works with referring physicians and patients to determine the best adjunctive therapy plan for TBI treatment," according to NorthStarHBOT.com. "Athletes, veterans, firefighters, police – anyone who’s experienced a concussion is a potential patient."

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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