Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) has been used since 2004 for some patients diagnosed with autism and other co-morbid medical issues.
What is HBOT?
Mild HBOT is a safe, effective way to get more oxygen into the body at the cellular level by using pressurized air chambers. According to the Laws of Physics, an increase in atmospheric pressure allows for more gas to be dissolved into any given liquid. Oxygen exists as a gas at room temperature, and the human body is made up almost entirely of water.
There are two types of mild HBOT therapy prescribed by physicians:
- 100% Oxygen: used in clinic only
- Ambient or Concentrated Oxygen: used in home
100% oxygen is approved for in-clinic use only following precise manufacturer specifications.
Filtered ambient air is used with an additional oxygen concentrator to safely administer oxygen to the body. By allowing more oxygen to penetrate otherwise oxygen deficient areas, relief for many common ailments can be sought, because HBOT enables the body to carry out oxygen dependent processes by dissolving oxygen directly into the blood, plasma and cerebrospinal fluids.
Mild HBOT is prescribed at 1.3 – 1.5 Atmospheres (ATA.)
Some doctors are still studying the effects of HBOT treatment for children affected with autism to see if it helps treating co-morbid issues. Issues could include:
- healing the gut and brain inflammation (two that may be separate issues or experienced simultaneously)
- blood flow to key areas of the brain
- dealing with gut parasites, yeast or bacteria
- help in all four areas
What Type of HBOT Therapy Available?
- Soft/portable in home hyperbaric – no concentrator
(NOT 100% oxygen)
- Soft/portable in home hyperbaric – with an oxygen concentrator
(NOT 100% oxygen)
- Hard chamber in clinic – with no mask
(Sometimes this can be just ambient air with pressure)
- Hard chamber in clinic – with a mask
(Sometimes 100% oxygen and sometimes 100% oxygen mixed with ambient air.)
- Hard chamber in clinic – with a hood
(Sometimes 100% oxygen and sometimes 100% mixed with ambient air.) It is important to ask what variation of delivery each clinic has.
Your treating physician should make recommendations as to which variation to pursue for your child. A prescription is required for any HBOT treatment.
Types of HBOT Treatment
This is where treatments vary and providers argue which treatment is best. This is information is provided as an overview to parents considering this treatment for their children.
Typically in hard chambers providing 100% oxygen, electronics of any kind ARE NOT ALLOWED in the units for safety reasons. Some providers have wired their units for music or for watching video on DVD with viewing portholes. You need to inquire if this is available for your child.
Many of the soft chambers have been approved for home use and do not use 100% oxygen. These chambers typical use an oxygen concentrator. A concentrator filters the air in the room providing a higher level of oxygenation to the air in the chamber. The percent concentration of the air in the chamber with an oxygen concentrator has been debated to be somewhere between 40-80%. While I realize there is a big difference in the level of the concentration of oxygen, I have to keep in mind that here in smoggy Southern California, the air we breathe is about 15-20% oxygen.
Please note these are my opinions based on the research I have done and professionals I have spoken to. I highly recommend doing your own research regarding the different units and outpatient services available.
HBOT and Supplements: A Very Important Combination
It is important to note that many doctors recommend HBOT for children on the spectrum IN CONJUNCTION WITH antioxidant supplements. HBOT treatments can cause additional oxidative stress to patients.
Supplements to consider while providing HBOT treatments are: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, glutathione, and selenium. Dosing of these supplements are based on the age, weight and testing of the patients. Please see your doctor for additional information and dosing recommendations for your child.
Questions to Ask HBOT Providers
Each clinic has a different way to deliver HBOT therapy. It is recommended to interview at least two providers before you make a selection. The following questions will help you in finding an HBOT therapy provider:
- What does the child wear?
- Can a supervising adult go in the chamber as well?
- If you have two children with autism, can you get treatment for both at the same time?
- Is there an additional price for treating two children?
- What is the actual treatment time (at full pressure)?
- What can the child play with while receiving treatment in the chamber?
- Can the child watch a movie or play games on an iPad?
- Does your clinic have experience working with children affected by autism?
- If so, ask them to describe experience.
- Does your clinic allow us to have a meet and greet prior to our appointment for therapy?
- Does your clinic bill insurance directly or is pre-payment required?
- If pre-payment is required is there a discount for upfront pre-payments?
- Does your clinic have staff that is medically supervising HBOT treatments?
- Will your clinic follow your doctor’s prescription?
- How is therapy administered?
- For example, do treatments occur on consecutive days? Open on weekends?
Some final words:
Medical treatment and care should be PART of your intervention plan for an autistic child. In addition to biomedical intervention please consider one on one behavioral intervention including but not limited to: ABA, VBA, Speech, OT, Play skills, Social skills. For additional information on THERAPY OPTIONS please see the THERAPY link on the tacanow.org web site. Both a biomedical intervention AND BEHAVIORAL therapy plan are part of a total solution for your child.
*All content of this article is for informational purposes only. Furthermore, it is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For this reason, always seek the advice of your physician, therapist, or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have.