A lot has already been discussed and researched about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). There’s no doubt that hyperbaric therapy can be considered among some of the best methods for treating a number of ailments.
What started as a treatment for decompression sickness for deep-sea divers is now proving to be fruitful for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Overview of Autism Spectrum Discorder
Before understanding how HBOT therapy can help treat ASD, first, let’s talk about autism in brief.
A condition related to brain development, Autism Spectrum Disorder affects how individuals perceive things and interact with others. These people can face problems communicating and interacting and show repetitive behaviors.
The term “spectrum” in ASD refers to the various symptoms and their severity. For those of you who aren’t quite familiar with ASD, it begins in early childhood, causing issues functioning in society, like socializing, going to school, or working.
A small percentage of children develop normally till age one. However, between 18 and 24 months, these children can develop autism symptoms. There’s still no cure for ASD, but early treatment can make a huge difference in the lives of these individuals.
Experts suggest that children with autism can greatly benefit from HBOT therapy due to the increase in cerebral perfusion during the treatment.
What is HBOT Therapy?
As most of you may already know that HBOT therapy is a non-invasive treatment using an increased amount of oxygen. It helps in enhancing the body’s natural capacity to heal. When a patient is placed inside the HBOT chamber, they inhale about 24% to 100% times the normal oxygen level. The pressure inside the HBOT chamber is somewhat three times higher than the normal air we breathe.
This environment increases the oxygen level in the blood and betters bodily functions, right from heartbeat to moving and thinking. HBOT therapy helps oxygen molecules reach deeper into the organs and tissues by 400%, which is quite high compared to the typical blood supply.
Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder
As mentioned above, the signs can be visible during childhood, and the parents and caretakers notice symptoms, like
1. Difficulty in maintaining eye contact
2. Lack of proficiency with using non-verbal gestures
3. Difficulty making friends
4. Restricted interests
5. Repetitive behavior
6. Decoding abstract ideas literally
7. Problems in appreciating their emotions
Apart from the social problems, ASD also leads to
8. Difficulty in coping with changes in schedule
9. Overly focused
10. Sensory hypersensitivity
11. Arranging things in a particular manner
12. Stereotypical movement
Doctors look for signs of developmental issues. If the person shows symptoms of ASD, then as a parent, you will be referred to a specialist who deals with ASD. These professionals can further help out in understanding what would be the best treatment method.
Why HBOT Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Several clinical trials later, it has been established that HBOT therapy is efficient in improving the lives of individuals with ASD. However, one must know that the studies are still going on, and medical specialists are still working to master the effectiveness of HBOT for autism.
On one hand, studies and research have also shown promising results in using HBOT therapy for decreasing brain inflammation and gastrointestinal system related to ASD. The parents and caretakers of children with autism have reported the following improvements after spending sessions in HBOT therapy:
- Lesser sensory issues
- Improvement in bowel function
- Becoming more calmer
- Improvement in sleep
- Improvement in cognition
- Better communication skills
- Stronger family connection
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared HBOT therapy safe for treating several other conditions except for autism because its efficacy has not yet been clinically proven.
Benefits of HBOT Therapy for ASD
HBOT therapy has successfully shown effects on the following:
Patients diagnosed with ASD may suffer from cerebral hypoperfusion (insufficient blood flow). This results in repetitive behaviors, decreased language development, and problems in processing emotions and expressions.
HBOT therapy has shown improvement in cerebral perfusion. In a 2012 study, patients who received hyperbaric treatment showed 85.3% improvement in frontal lobe perfusion, 82.4% betterment in temporal lobe perfusion, and 75.8% in other areas of the brain.
Several case studies have found that children who received HBOT therapy have shown improvement in cognitive function, communication, social interaction, speech, self-help skills, memory, and so much more.
Individuals with ASD can suffer from gastrointestinal inflammation or neuroinflammation, and studies have revealed that HBOT therapy produces anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s not tough to understand why parents and guardians are turning towards hyperbaric therapy to treat individuals with autism. HBOT therapy helps in alleviating the challenges and obstacles they face every day.
It’s best to take the help of a medical professional before booking the treatment session.