Doctors and physicians define HBOT therapy as inhalation of pure and 100% oxygen at atmospheric pressure levels greater than one. However, this definition has undergone modifications over the years. According to the current definition of HBOT therapy, the inhalation of any percentage of oxygen greater than 21% (since that is the percentage of oxygen contained in ambient air) can be considered to be HBOT therapy. Scientific studies and clinical trials reveal that oxygen under high pressure helps to reduce inflammations, as well as improve the oxygen content in organelles and cells by dissolving it in extra-cellular body fluids like plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, interstitial fluid and lymph. Increased oxygenation helps to trigger many biochemical reactions within the body.
Some of the effects of HBOT include:
Greater production of antioxidant enzymes.
Angiogenesis, or the growth of additional blood vessels in tissues and organs.
Increased oxygenation of the mitochondria.
Greater production of ROS(reactive oxygen species)
Reduction of systemic and gastrointestinal viruses.
Increase in the production of stem cells.
HBOT therapy has been proven to have positive results on children suffering from autism. Simply defined, autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that impairs the child’s ability to communicate and express himself/herself, control bowel movements, accept sudden situational changes etc. SPECT scans of autistic children have revealed that the main cause for this condition is the limited supply of oxygen to the brain, as a result of which normal development is hampered. By undergoing sustained HBOT therapy sessions, it is possible to see a marked improvement of oxygen supply to the brain tissues in scans taken after the commencement of the treatment.
Doctors and parents of children suffering from autism have observed the following improvements after undergoing regular HBOT sessions:
Improved sleeping habits.
Improved attention and focus.
The child becomes calmer. He/she also develops affection for his/her family members.
Better bowel function.
Sensory disturbances caused by sudden flashes of bright lights, or loud noises reduce remarkably.
The child is more “present”.
Autistic children can use language better: both cognitively and expressively.
The autistic child develops a deep bond with his family and gets emotionally connected and attached to them.
Earlier, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder were advised to undergo treatment in hard-shelled monoplace or multiplace chambers using 100% oxygen under 1.5 ATA pressure. The treatment protocols included:
A minimum of 40 sessions stretched out over a period of two months at the most.
Each session had the duration of an hour, preceded by 10-15 minutes for increasing the pressure inside the chamber, and proceeded by a 10-minutes phase to decompress it.
It is necessary to feed hard-shelled chambers with 100% pure oxygen. Multiplace chambers generally necessitate patients recommended to inhale 100% oxygen to wear extra accessories like oxygen masks to follow the prescription rigorously.
After the completion of 40 sessions, there is a gap of 3 to 4 weeks before the treatment is resumed. The frequency and exact number of sessions are to be decided by the physician.
Two theoretical side-effects experienced by ASD patients after undergoing HBOT therapy are hyperactivity and increased stimming. However clinical history attests to the fact that autistic children become calmer and show decreased sign of stimming after successive sessions.
Patients should be checked for ear and sinus infections before the therapy sessions begin, as it is advisable to postpone the treatment schedule if such conditions are detected.
Recent technological and scientific advancements have made it possible for trained professionals to administer this treatment in soft-shelled chambers where the maximum pressure level cannot exceed 1.3ATA. The main advantage of these chambers is that families can use them to administer and monitor treatment in their homes if it becomes difficult to locate and book a bed for HBOT treatment in a hard-shelled chamber strictly found in clinics and hospitals.
Although it is best to leave it to the doctor to determine the eligibility of an autistic child for HBOT treatment, here are certain parameters that can be kept in mind during the crucial decision-making process. Those who can be considered include:
Children who show little or no reaction to intensive biomedical treatments like MeB12.
Those with chronic gastrointestinal problems like yeast and bacterial infections.
Those who have tested positive for mitochondrial dysfunction and/or oxidative stress.
Although there is no magic formula to cure autism, the individual problems causing this condition can be treated to improve the behavioral and linguistic faculties of the child. HBOT therapy can be considered to be a complementary, non-invasive method that improves the oxygen flow in the body and helps in the recovery and recuperation of damaged cells and tissues.
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