Autism, a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, has been mystifying parents and researchers from a long time. Although there are several unproven treatments accompanied by anecdotal evidence, there is no scientific evidence to support these treatments. One of such treatments is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), which has become quite popular among the parents of autistic children.
HBOT results in revival of mitochondria in the neurons of brain, says K. Paul Stoller, MD, FACHM. He has written in one of the papers published on TACA website – “Hyperbaric therapy is perhaps the safest procedure in medicine at the pressures used to treat brain injuries and children on the spectrum.” He has also cited a study conducted by government of Canada regarding HBOT use in the treatment of patients having Cerebral Palsy. In 80% of the kids, there was an improvement in speech, cognition and various other abilities. He has also referenced a study conducted in 2005, published in Pediatrics, which shows brain damage to have reversed in kids having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
How HBOT Treats Autism
In Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), the individual with autism breathes pure oxygen inside a specially designed chamber called as hyperbaric chamber. The pressure is greater than atmospheric pressure. HBOT lets more oxygen to dissolve in the blood. The blood more enriched with oxygen repairs damages in the brain and body faster. By repairing damages in brain, HBOT helps to reduce the symptoms of autism.
However, hyperbaric therapy for autism treatment should always be carried out under the supervision of an authorized medical professional. Use of HBOT by non-professionals not trained on how to use the HBOT equipment safely, can be quite dangerous. Oxygen being highly inflammable, requires one to take the proper precautions so as to avoid any likelihood of fire. David Lambert, specialist of hyperbaric oxygen at University of Pennsylvania’s Hospital, warns about the potential side-effects of HBOT, which may include collapsed lungs and seizures. Another major risk is suffocation. These are some real risks, and alternative medical centers and medical spas may not be efficient enough to deal with such issues. People who carry out the therapy in their home may also not be able to tackle the therapy’s medical side effects. So, the supervision by an authorized doctor or medical professional is of utmost importance.
Although HBOT is not supported by any hard evidence proving that the therapy can ease autism symptoms, however, a number of people have claimed that they have experienced the benefits of hyperbaric therapy for autism treatment. Many parents have reported that HBOT has proved to be beneficial in the treatment of their kids with autism and that their kids have shown significant improvement after undergoing the therapy. Scientists are constantly trying to discover how exactly the therapy helps in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and it seems that it would take years for any accurate results to come in this context. For the time being, people interested in using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for treating autism, should do so only when a qualified and authorized medical professional supervises the treatment.
What do parent report?
Parents and doctors of autistic children have reported benefits of HBOT that included:
Children becoming calmer and more affectionate
Improved focus and attention
Improved bowel function
Less Sensory Disturbance
More “Connected” to Family. (2)