WEST FARGO — Tyler Einarson was emphatic: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy was nothing short of amazing in helping his recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues arising from combat experiences while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"I noticed it after the first treatment," said Einarson, a Purple Heart recipient who is now an employee at Healing with Hyperbarics, a Fargo-based facility chosen to be part of a pilot program aiming to gauge the efficacy of hyperbaric treatment in the area of veterans issues.

Einarson, a Moorhead resident, talked about the development on Friday, Sept. 6, during a roundtable discussion hosted by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who announced the Department of Veterans Affairs' decision to add the Fargo VA Health Care System to its hyperbaric oxygen therapy clinical demonstration program.

The move gives access to the alternative treatment for PTSD to veterans in North Dakota and western Minnesota who have not experienced positive outcomes using more conventional approaches.

Tyler Einarson, right, talks about his experience with hyperbaric oxygen therapy at a roundtable discussion held Friday, Sept. 6. Dave Olson / The Forum
Tyler Einarson, right, talks about his experience with hyperbaric oxygen therapy at a roundtable discussion held Friday, Sept. 6. Dave Olson / The Forum

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Einarson was one of several veterans who spoke about improvements they saw after undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which uses pressure chambers to help saturate the body's cells with oxygen.

The results of such treatments for people who have suffered things like traumatic brain injury can be dramatic, according to Dr. Robert Bathurst.

"I can tell you, it's immensely successful," Bathurst said, adding that the process can reduce inflammation to the point that negative effects of traumatic brain injury can be reversed in some cases.

Hoeven said North Dakota is now one of five places in the country, along with California, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida, where veterans who haven't benefited from traditional PTSD therapies can access hyperbaric treatment.

Eric Martz, a veteran from Moorhead, also spoke at Friday's gathering at the West Fargo VFW, stating he was happy his brothers and sisters in arms will now have a potentially effective way of dealing with serious health issues — even though the alternative treatment may have arrived too late to help him with his own medical issues, including vision problems.

"What a difference it might have made," Martz said.