Veterans hope to see alternative treatment for PTSD covered by insurance

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INDIANAPOLIS- It’s estimated there are more than 300,000 combat veterans in the U.S. who need help for symptoms from traumatic brain injury. Additionally, 600,000 veterans suffer with PTSD.

There is a treatment available and even though it’s not approved by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD, some people say it helps.

Retired Army Colonel George Corbin is a veteran of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and even East Africa.  His time overseas really took a toll on him. When he came home in 2012, Corbin says he didn’t recognize himself.

“I got off the plane at Fort Benning, Georgia and I just started crying, just walking off the runway, thinking OK what’s this about? I was driving down the road and started crying, in people’s office and I started crying,” Corbin said.

Corbin was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and PTSD. The VA offered him support and medication, but it didn’t help. He was moody, angry and hopeless.

“When you start thinking in your mind, how to do away with yourself, basically to a point and have it look like an accident, you’re getting pretty near the edge here,” said Corbin.

When Corbin hit his lowest, his wife stepped in. She had heard through the VA, that vets were being treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, HBOT, to ease PTSD.

The problem was it wasn’t covered by insurance.  Corbin’s wife found a private clinic in Colorado where Corbin could get help and the clinic would help pick up the cost.

During treatments, patients are sealed inside a capsule where they breathe in 100 percent pressurized oxygen for an hour at a time.

“It’s bringing increased blood flow, increased oxygen and allowing new blood flow, new blood vessels to grow into the damaged area. It brings the injured cells back online and helps them be more functional prior to the treatment,” said Dr. Julie Stapleton, the Medical Director at the Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Institute.

The treatment is traditionally used for leg ulcers, gangrene, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Right now, it is not approved by the FDA for treating traumatic brain injuries or PTSD.

However, that isn’t stopping veterans like Corbin from seeking out the treatment.

“Saved my life probably. My mood got better, just basically across the board, I was functioning better. Was I 100%? No. That may never happen, but it made a big difference,” said Corbin.

Help to cover the cost of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy may happen in Indiana.

Senate Bill 517 contains a half million dollars designated for veteran benefits including HBOT. The state senate passed it unanimously.

However, the bill is still waiting on a decision to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee.

If not, the bill could die in committee, meaning no help to cover the costs of the treatment and numerous other programs.

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