The often asked question is – how can hyperbaric oxygen therapy help with Autism?
Scientists have varying opinions on why the therapy is so successful as a treatment for the condition. Some theories suggest that the brain in some persons with Autism, as well as Cerebral Palsy and other neurological disorders, is lacking oxygen and in a dormant, or sleeping state due to lack of blood flow.
Hyperbaric (HBOT) forces oxygen into tissues throughout the body including brain tissues and fluid, resulting in a re-awakening of dormant areas of the brain. Other theories state that excessive swelling in the brain results in a lack of oxygen causing cerebral impairment that can cause behavioral problems, confusion, etc. Oxygen is forced into these damaged areas, through the pressurization of hyperbaric, which alleviates brain swelling by constricting blood vessels. In addition, hyperbaric is thought to provide an optimal environment to assist in the regeneration of brain tissue.
In one study, involving brain functionality and recovery for children with chemical exposures exhibiting PDD disorders, hyperbaric oxygen therapy was found to be remarkably effective. Treatments consisted of 10 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber at 1.3 ATA, for one hour per day, five consecutive days for two weeks. To increase validity to the study results, SPECT scans of each patient’s brain were taken before and after the hyperbaric treatments to quantify physical changes to the brain tissue. The SPECT scan showed an increase to blood flow and oxygen to the temporal lobe. SPECT scans of patients taken before hyperbaric treatments showed a significant amount of dormant activity while scans taken of patient brains after hyperbaric indicated an increase in brain activity and blood flow. After hyperbaric therapy, dormant brain regions were replaced with greater functioning tissues and represented a scan more similar to a healthy individual.
Worldwide, medical researchers are discovering promising results with the effects of hyperbaric therapy on persons and children with Autism.