ST. GEORGE (ABC4 News) – Up to 20 percent of veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to federal data.
A St. George business is creating a veteran sponsorship program to treat PTSD using hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Staff at InsideOut Hyperbaric + Wellness say the unique treatment involves stepping into a highly pressurized chamber that brings 600 times more oxygen to the brain than normal.
“Those oxygen cells along with stem cells will actually start to repair those damaged areas of the brain,” Ryan Brinkerhoff, co-owner of InsideOut, said. “You repair the brain, and the symptoms go away.”
Brinkerhoff said staff has recently created a charity program for veterans with the disorder, offering free therapy sessions for U.S. Army veteran Josh Rock.
Rock served sevens years in the U.S. Army stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, and when he returned home, he was suicidal and started abusing alcohol and other drugs to cope.
“I just couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and had constant nightmares, things that we now know are symptoms of PTSD,” Rock said. “With tears in my eyes, I said, ‘I just want to make it to my 40th birthday, sitting on my front porch swinging.'”
InsideOut donated 90 sessions over 90 days for Rock’s treatment, which has helped the veteran “wean off pharmaceuticals” that would “only work for six months at a time.”
Rock has recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree and enrolled in a masters program with the hope of opening up businesses involving hyperbaric oxygen therapy in several states.
InsideOut staff said GoFundMe accounts are being created to help other vets use the facility at the same time as sponsored vets so they don’t have to “wait at least six months for treatment.”
U.S. Army veteran Nate Hamson suffers from PTSD, with sleep deprivation, body pains, and depression, according to Brinkerhoff. Inside Out is sponsoring half of Hamson’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions and the other half will be donated via a GoFundMe account.
“There’s nothing better than having patients tell you that you completely changed or saved their life,” Brinkerhoff said. “I mean you can’t put a price tag on anything like that.”
For resources for helping loved ones with PTSD, check out the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website.