MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- Proudly serving his country -- Marine Corporal David Durrance did a total of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He came home unscathed -- only to be injured New Year's Day 2006 -- a tragic accident nearly killing him -- when a 200-pound light pole on Bourbon Street crushed him.
"I had two strokes, bled out twice, 30 days in a coma. I was as bad as you can be and still be alive," recalled Durrance.
Durrance spent 4 1/2 months in a V.A. hospital -- learning how to walk, talk, and eat again. He was on the road to recovery -- then a year later he noticed a sharp pain in his right foot.
"They did an MRI. Did biopsies looking for cancer, but never found anything," said Durrance.
Unable to ever pinpoint the problem, Durrance began managing it with pain medication prescribed by his doctors at the V.A.
"The V.A. puts bandaids on things. I knew along with my wife that I was slowly but surely getting hooked on pain medication. I couldn't walk without some sort of narcotic. I saw my life was dwindling away because of pain medication," said Durrance.
Desperate for an alternative -- his wife inquired about the hyperbaric oxygen therapy being done at Integrated Pain Management of Alabama.
"Dave was used up... The other veterans that have came through here with traumatic brain injury and PTSD are used up... Those two acronyms don't give it justice," said Dr. Lloyd Manchikes, Integrated Pain Management of Alabama.
Dr. Manchikes has treated more than 20 veterans like Durrance with traumatic brain injuries. His is one of about 100 clinics treating veterans with HBOT around the country. Like the others, Durrance started doing 90-minute sessions in the hyperbaric tanks -- where he receives 100% oxygen under pressure.
"We continued to treat my foot, but where I noticed the biggest difference was within myself. Being able to think clearer, being able to carry on a conversation with somebody without getting side-tracked or frustrated... I could concentrate a lot better," said Durrance.
"The body starts to build new blood vessels in between the injured cells in short -- you restore the architecture of the brain. You restore the hard drive back to its original state so it starts to function again," explained Dr. Manchikes.
While his mind was on the mend, Durrance's foot never healed. He eventually made the decision to amputate it.
"There was nothing they could do. It was the only viable option," said Durrance.
Despite the science behind the progress in patients like Durrance -- hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not approved by the V.A. It's a fight Dr. Manchikes continues to lobby for in Washington.
"We've been at this a long time... We don't think we are going to have any government intervention," said Manchikes.
Durrance is now off most of his pain meds. He's working again and credits hyperbaric oxygen therapy with giving him his life back.
"It works. I'm a testament to it working," said Durrance. "I'm able to help my wife, coach football, and do things with my kids. It's changed my quality of life."
We've reached out the V.A. for comment -- but have yet to hear back. Meanwhile, Dr. Manchikes has set up "Southern Brain Injury Clinic" -- a 501 (c) to help fund the treatment for veterans.