Fayetteville facility helps military families


John and Denise Mercado opened Fayetteville Hyperbarics a couple of months ago with a deliberate purpose of being positioned near Fort Bragg.

There's no proof that the 100 percent oxygen treatments work, but don't tell that to these families.

Sawyer Parker is one of seven children and started showing signs of autism at age 3. Sawyer's father is an Army doctor, and he and his wife were desperate to help their son.

With medication not helping, they decided to try hyperbaric sessions. Each one is called a dive. The Sawyers said that is when things started to change.

"He was going from being completely non-verbal to just saying things. I never thought he'd be potty trained. He's been potty-trained since he was 4," mother Shawna Parker said.

Bianca Baldwin also thinks the treatments are the key to relieving her husband's PTSD and traumatic brain injuries from two roadside bombs in Iraq.

"They did not realize that something happened to his brain then because he'd walked away from it, he was down range. Everything was good," Baldwin said.

He came home with mood swings, and a year later, doctors detected lesions on his brain. He was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and multiple sclerosis.

"It helped. It stabilized his mood, range of motion was better, overall well-being," Baldwin said. "When you find something that even makes a slight difference, something that you can hang onto, something that gives you hope, it just helps with sticking it out."

It's difficult to prove that the hyperbarics are helping. Without FDA approval, a lot of military families are forced to pay out of pocket.

"It's just that they haven't been doing it enough. The clinical studies that FDA requires for approval, so here we are," Fayetteville Hyperbarics owner Denise Mercado said.

Certain insurance companies and the Green Beret Foundation offer funding for the treatment. However, until it is FDA-approved, the financial roadblock exists for the people who believe the treatment is helping them.

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