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Hyperbaric Therapy for Autism: Why is it Considered a Potential Treatment for Autistic Kids? 

A series of medical studies have revealed that autistic children have gastrointestinal inflammation, hypoperfusion, neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, immune dysregulation, neurotransmitter abnormalities, and mitochondrial dysfunction. These health ailments co-relate with symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, such as hypoperfusion causes self-stimulatory behaviors, repetitive behaviors, and communication issues. 

Multiple therapies are utilized to reduce these symptoms and control repetitive behaviors in autistic children but there’s still no promising treatment. Hyperbaric therapy for autism is a ray of hope that improves oxygen flow in the body. Hence, improves symptoms naturally, such as reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. 

The discussion will review why hyperbaric therapy for autism is considered as a potential treatment. 

What is Hyperbaric Therapy for Autism?

Hyperbaric therapy for autism is a treatment where pure oxygen is administered to the patient in an air-tight compartment known as the hyperbaric chamber. The air pressure inside the chamber is one to two times higher than the normal pressure found at sea level. 

The combined action of pure oxygen and high air pressure helps the body fluids like cerebral spinal fluids, plasma, lipids, etc. absorb the oxygen and carry it to the inflamed or injured area of the body where body flow is restricted or impaired. This includes not only red blood cells but also It is known that most of the diseased tissues and cells in autistic children have low oxygen supply. By naturally restoring oxygen flow in the body, hyperbaric therapy helps in reducing symptoms of autism.

Why HBOT Helps in Autism?

There are some clear indicators of how HBOT therapy helps in autism. We have discussed these below. Read on!

  1. Treats Hypoperfusion

In multiple medical reviews, it has been noted that autistic children have decreased flow of blood in their brain. This means that approximately 86% of autistic children or adults suffer from cerebral hypoperfusion. It is believed that as age increases, so does the condition. This condition becomes profound in younger adults or older children when compared to children who are just diagnosed with autism.

Cerebral hypoperfusion directly impacts the ability of the child to focus or communicate. Generally, when a child is trying to focus or accomplish a task, the flow of blood to their brain increases. But, this action is often diminished in autistic children. 

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The primary action of hyperbaric therapy for autism is to deliver the appropriate amount of oxygen to the body. During this therapy, every cell and tissue in our body gets the desired amount of oxygen, which is why it is also able to help in reducing cerebral hypoperfusion. With improved activity in the brain, symptoms related to hypoperfusion decrease, and the quality of life of the patient improve.

  1. Helps in Inflammation

Inflammation in our body is usually a sign of edema, which means increased swelling. This increases the cell spacing and allows fluid between the cells to increase. If autistic children have additional fluid in their brain cells, inflammation is present. 

Sometimes, due to an increase in the fluid, the connectivity between multiple cells in the brain breaks. This is also seen commonly in autistic children.

It seems safe to say that appropriate treatment, such as HBOT, can help in improving blood flow to the brain and decreasing related symptoms. 

Other than inflammation in the brain, autistic children also have inflammation in the intestines and related organs, such as the stomach, colon, etc. According to studies, 90% of children have gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, due to inflammation. 

Hyperbaric therapy for autism is known to reduce inflammation in the body by regulating oxygen flow. This therapy can improve gastrointestinal and cerebral inflammation in autistic children, which helps in reducing stomach issues as well as other issues, such as poor verbal and non-verbal communication.

What Does Research Say?

In a trial, 20 individuals, 3 females, and 17 males were diagnosed as the right candidate for hyperbaric therapy for autism. Every patient received 20 sessions of HBOT at 100% oxygen and 1.5ATA.

Here, 1 patient received 30 sessions, 8 received only 20 sessions, and 11 received 20 sessions which were followed by another set of 20.

At the end of the study, every patient revealed some improvement. Almost 6% of patients with severe autism moved to the mild category and 31% of patients with severe autism moved to the moderate category. A complete percentage of moderate category patients moved to the mild category. 

These successes in HBOT have encouraged many parents to seek hyperbaric therapy for their autistic children. One such story is of Lee Frost. When he first started receiving therapy in 2013, he had multiple symptoms of ASD, including poor communication, repetitive behaviors, etc. 

After receiving multiple 75-minute sessions, Lee is now better. He can talk, form sentences, and get ready for school himself. Hyperbaric therapy has helped Lee receive a better quality of life. 

Conclusion

Since we don’t have a prominent treatment at hand, support therapies are utilized to reduce symptoms and improve the condition of autistic children. Fortunately, hyperbaric therapy for autism reveals a positive result in these cases, which is why its effectiveness is now being explored all across the globe. However, before considering this therapy for your child, it is necessary to consult your doctor, discuss various options, and then carefully develop an HBOT action plan.

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