HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy)

For several years, high pressure oxygen treatments have been used successfully to treat several diseases, such as delayed wound healing or carbon monooxide intoxication. Research has since recorded improvements in chronic or traumatic neurological diseases, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowl diseases (Crohn`s disease, Colitis ulcerosa) as well as Autism. 

It is striking that autistic children often have a less distinctive blood flow in their brains than non autistic children, especially in the temporal lobe which includes important areas of speech perception and production. In different studies, it could be shown that a hypoperfusion in those areas correlates to a great fear of change. Other studies document correlations of a cerebral hypoperfusion with repetitive behaviour, unusual interest in specific sensory impressions, and impairments of social interaction and communication.  Besides that, it was found that the decrease in blood flow accelerates with incremental age. And the children with the most severely decreased blood flow showed the most pronounced autistic behaviour.

The big question as to why this cerebral hypoperfusion occurs still has not been completely determined. Many studies have found signs of inflammation, including specific inflammation cells or markers as well as antibodies. In this case, an ideal provision of the cells with oxygen is not guaranteed.  By raising ambient pressure and oxygen fraction in the air, the amount of oxygen transported in the tissue is increased, providing a better supply of oxygen for the cells. At the same time, oxygen has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Several surveys provide evidence that oxygen leads to a significant improvement of neuroinflammation, cerebral endema and blood-barrier damage.

A study with autistic children finds a significant decrease of inflammation markers. In addition, different antioxidant enzymes increased which provides improved protection of the cells from free radicals. These would otherwise react with different  compounds of the cells and lead to DNA damage, mitochondrial malfunction, cell membrane damage and eventually cell death. Oxygen also optimizes several factors of the immune system (including TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-6, Interferon-gamma) which leads to a reduction of the inflammation. Furthermore, there are early and encouraging findings that the hyperbaric oxygen therapy mobilises stem cells from the bone marrow. Depending on their differentiating potential, these stem cells have the potential to become specific cell types and lead to a regeneration of the tissue. In 2009, a multicenter, randomized, double-blind and controlled trial was carried out by Rossignol et al.. Sixty two children were randomly assigned to either a hyperbaric treatment or a control group. All children spent one hour in hyperbaric chamber, twice a day over a four week period. Weekends were not included, so all children attended 40 sessions of treatment in total. In the control group, the pressure was only slightly elevated to 1.03 atm (normal pressure is 1.0 atm) and the oxygen concentration stayed at 21% (standard oxygen pressure). Whereas in the treatment group, the pressure was raised to 1.3 atm and the concentration of oxygen  increased to 24%. Neither the investigator, nor the parents and their children knew which group they belonged to. Before and after the four weeks, each child’s behaviour was evaluated by three different standardized tests: the Clinical Global Impression scale (CGI), the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), and the Autism Treatment Evalutation Checklist (ATEC). Significant improvements were found in the following areas: 

  • Overall functioning
  • Receptive language
  • Sociability
  • Eye contact
  • Irritability
  • Stereotypy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Speech
  • Sensory/cognitive awareness

 In our practice, your child has the opportunity to benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Depending on your child’s maturity, he will be treated on his own or in company of a parent in a hyperbaric chamber for one hour at a pressure of 1.3 atm and a oxygen concentration of 30%. In that way, permanent supervision and communication with the child will be maintained. If you are interested in this treatment, we can arrange a free, no obligation consultation to determine whether this treatment is advisable for your child. This can be conducted face-to-face or over the telephone and is free of charge.