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Veteran Turns To Alternative Therapy For PTSD Help
A combat veteran battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) turned to an alternative therapy called float therapy and says he's seen an improvement in symptoms and is now taking less medications.
Cody Wayne Austell, 25, was born on post at Fort Hood and knew from a young age he wanted to join the military and follow in his father's footsteps.
In 2007, Austell joined Fort Hood's 4th Infantry Division and deployed to Iraq for more than a year and was part of the security detachment for the 4th Infantry Division Commanding General.
During his time in combat he sustained invisible wounds that led him to be diagnosed with chronic PTSD and TBI when he returned home.
"I felt like no one really had any answers for me," Austell said.
"Over the last three years they put me on several different medications and I had adverse effects on everything from bodily to mentally."
During this time Austell also began to pull away from friends and family.
"The signs started to show in the isolation, and I would just disappear for months at a time. My friends used to say I was like a ghost people talked about me but they never saw me and I isolated for probably three and a half years -- I was just gone," he said.
After family members began to worry about Austell his brother suggested he try an alternative treatment called float therapy.
Through research he was led to the Zero Gravity Institute.
Co-owner Kevin Johnson said the center specializes in sensory deprivation tanks or flotation tanks that allow clients to meditate and focus on forgetting stress.
"You're lying down in about twelve inches of water that has 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved in the water so you're very buoyant and you're gonna float right on top of the water," Johnson said.
According to Johnson with the heated water and floating element clients lose that sensation of the water all together so it just feels like they're floating in space.
Austell said the sessions changed his life.
"All of the tension that you have from gravity is gone," he said while demonstrating is meditation techniques from the tank.
The veteran said he's even been able to go off all of his medications as his doctors at the Waco VA Hospital continue to monitor his progress on coping with symptoms.
"I did my first float and it was very amazing to me because I was able to put in line three years' worth of stuff that was trapped in my head in pretty much an hour session and it hooked me they were able to provide me a safe place when I came in," Austell said.
He's even spreading the news about the treatment with other veterans.
"One of them was wounded in combat, shot seven times as a marine sniper and he came in and absolutely loved it," Austell said.
For more information about the Zero Gravity Institute visit them online at http://www.zerogravityinstitute.com/.