Cramer & Hoeven Welcome Veterans Affairs Secretary to Fargo

Sec. Robert Wilkie toured the Fargo VA and the private practice healing with hyperbarics

FARGO, N.D. — Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer took Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on a tour of a facility in Fargo that is changing the way veterans are treated for PTSD and brain injuries.

On August 13, 2005, Tyler Einarson was serving his country in Afghanistan, keeping watch while the rest of his team was cleaning up.

“I was going to start. I had taken off my flack jacket, flicked a cigarette and when I flicked it, I got shot across the arm,” he said.

The enemy had found Einarson and the 30 other men on his team.

Two more bullets hit him.  Eventually he was flown to Germany but then sent back to Afghanistan just nine days later.

“I had a sucking chest wound. I was terrified,” Einarson said.

Once the Marines realized that was a mistake, they sent Einarson back home to North Dakota, but his treatment included tons of medications that he says just made him feel “higher than a kite,” Einarson said.

It wasn’t until this June when he received hyperbaric treatment that he says he finally felt like himself again.

“It gave me a feeling of wanting to take part again in life. Mental clarity was ridiculous,” Einarson said.

Healing with Hyperbarics is one of five hyperbaric treatment facilities in the country meaning North Dakota veterans are some of the few to have access to the oxygen therapy.

“Similar to flying on an airplane, the chamber is sealed and we increase the pressure while patients are breathing 100 percent oxygen,” said Dr. Daphne Denham, who works at the facility.

Denham says the treatment brings blood oxygen levels up by 1,000 percent, which starts to repair damaged brain tissue.

Senators Hoeven and Cramer helped bring the alternative treatment to Fargo last June as a way to help heal veterans with PTSD or traumatic brain issues.

“We see what our veterans do for us. We have to see what we can do for them,” Hoeven said.

After hearing of the success the treatment has had in Fargo so far, Sec. Wilkie says Fargo’s partnership with Healing with Hyperbarics will continue serving as a pilot program for the rest of the VA hospitals across the country.

“We’ll flow the veterans in and we will take the data from that and evaluate it and hopefully we can add another treatment available to the nine and a half million veterans we serve,” said Sec. Wilkie.

Denham says her staff will perform about 60 treatments every day at Healing with Hyperbarics.

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