POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - A unique treatment center is helping people with a variety of health issues.
Sean Ennis has been dealing with chronic fatigue and headaches for six years. Things got so difficult, he had to drop out of university.
Then he found out about hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
"I was very skeptical," Ennis said about starting the treatment.
Ennis is one of more than 4,000 patients who have tried HBOT at Idaho Hyperbarics, a treatment center in Pocatello that opened in 1999.
Patients go into a chamber that looks like a submarine and put on a clear plastic hood to help circulate oxygen. They can read, chat and play games while they let the chamber do its job.
"It's just like a bottle of pop. When you've got pressure on a bottle of pop it holds more dissolved gas," said Jeff Hampsten, the owner of Idaho Hyperbarics.
"When you go under higher than normal pressure, your body uptakes whatever you're breathing differently," Hampsten said.
When the chamber changes air pressure, it's like going underwater. That's how Hampsten got started in this. His background in deep water diving opened his eyes to the possibilities HBOT poses.
By breathing oxygen under pressure, more oxygen--15 times more--goes to the plasma in the lungs, and that eventually dissolves into the tissue all over the body.
HBOT has been practiced for hundreds of years and is actively used in the U.S. and other countries as a treatment option.
"What all it does? Everything," Hampsten said.
In 2001, Hampsten treated a World War Two veteran with such bad post traumatic stress that he couldn't sleep with his wife at night without kicking her in his dreams.
"The last thing (the patient) told me was, 'I just want you to know that your magic machine helped my PTS'--or my problem is what he referred to it as--he said, 'It helped my problem and my wife is able to sleep with me for the first time in fifty years,'" Hampsten said.
While there are only 13 ailments that insurance will cover HBOT treatment for, Hampsten treats anything from wounds and burns to fatigue, PTSD, Parkinson's Disease, dementia and much more.
He believes much of brain disorders and diseases can be tracked to concussions and Post Concussive Syndrome.
"They say if you live long enough, everybody gets alzheimers. Well, I think we just beat our brains up and we're living longer, so we're seeing it," Hampsten said.
Ennis said his fatigue and headaches began after he was concussed, too.
"Initially all this started after a car accident when I got whiplash and started having headaches and stuff. They told me that would go away but it never really did," Ennis said.
Now after 80 treatments, he said he feels so much better that he's considering going back to school
"I'm really glad that I gave it a shot because it's something that not just worked, but at times when I don't go, the results stay. I don't regress," Ennis said.
More information about HBOT treatment and how it's helping veterans can be found at treatnow.org.
To learn more about Idaho Hyperbarics, you can visit idahohyperbarics.com or call 208-237-1151.