Illustration for article titled HBOT – An Alternative Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders em/em

Even with all the advancements, there are quite a few ailments that science is not able to cure or even definitively understand why it occurs in the first place. One medical condition that still baffles scientists and researchers is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Patients and their families often resort to alternative therapies from various streams of treatments to manage the symptoms of ASD and find relief.

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One such alternate treatment for ASD is HBOT for autism, otherwise known as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

More on Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism or ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that profoundly affects the social, cognitive, behavioral, and communication skills of a child. Children with this disorder display repetitive or restricted patterns of behavior, interests and activities.

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Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder

While the exact reasons that cause autism is unknown, researchers suggest that it is a multifactorial condition that is caused by the combination of one or more of the following biological, genetic, and environmental risk factors –

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  • Prenatal and perinatal factors
  • Brain infections like Encephalitis or Meningitis
  • Drug abuse during pregnancy
  • Rubella during pregnancy
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Toxin exposure during pregnancy
  • Tuberous Sclerosis
  • Undiagnosed Phenylketonuria
  • Lack of Oxygen during birth

These factors appear to affect early brain development and severely impact neuron communication in the brain, leading to severe cognitive and behavioral abnormalities.

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Associated conditions with ASD

  • Brain Inflammation
  • Cerebral Hypoperfusion
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Immune dysregulation
  • Seizure disorders
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Treatment:

Unfortunately, there is no single treatment for ASD, there are several alternative treatments that may help in managing the symptoms, like

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  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Diet modifications
  • Alternate and complementary treatments
  • Acupuncture
  • Neurofeedback

One such latest treatment that is being widely recognized to be very useful in managing ASD symptoms is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

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What is HBOT for Autism?

Under this treatment, patients are given 100% pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. This causes the oxygen to permeate, dissolve, and get absorbed more readily in the body’s blood cells, cerebra-spinal fluids, plasma, and other body fluids.

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In HBOT for autism, 100% oxygen at pressure levels of 1.5 - 2 ATA (Atmosphere Absolute) or 4 psi is administered to patients in a pressurized chamber, causing oxygen to be more easily absorbed by the body.

This oxygen-rich blood flows and circulates to all parts of the body, delivering more oxygen to all the cells and tissues. The increased levels of oxygen at the cellular level of the body increases the capacity of the white blood cells to fight infections better, lowers inflammation levels, and causes more new blood vessels to grow. This heals and rejuvenates the body at the cellular, physiological, and biochemical levels.

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How HBOT for Autism can Help?

HBOT for autism treatment can help manage and even reduce various ailments that are associated with autism, leading to better quality of life and health. Some of the ailments for which HBOT helps are:

  • Cerebral Hypoperfusion

In this autism associated condition, the brain receives a low or limited supply of blood, causing reduced metabolic activity. HBOT for autism causes more oxygen to reach the brain, thereby combating this condition.

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  • Gastrointestinal Inflammation

Studies indicate that most children with ASD also suffer from a higher incidence of gastrointestinal inflammation disorders, leading to constipation, diarrhea or IBS.

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HBOT for autism therapy reduces the inflammation in the GI tract and promotes healing. This reduces the GI issues and leads to better nutrition absorption.

  • Mitochondria Dysfunction

Many studies indicate that patients suffering from ASD also suffer from mitochondrial dysfunction. HBOT for autism can help in the increased production of ATP in the muscle tissues, thus reducing mitochondrial stress and increasing heme synthesis.

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  • Oxidative Stress

Patients with ASD were found to have low levels of vitamin B12 in their brain due to oxidative stress. HBOT for autism treatment increases the production of antioxidant enzymes to reduce this oxidative stress.

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HBOT for autism also works in the following ways:

  • Stabilizes cell membrane
  • Increases the availability of oxygen in the brain, reducing inflammation and improving circulation, thus leading to better cognition
  • Increases the production of stem cells
  • Stimulates new blood vessel production and growth
  • Enhances mitochondrial cell activity

Apart from the above, remarkable improvements were noted in autism patients in their communication, speech, sensory and cognitive abilities when they underwent HBOT for Autism.

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HBOT for Autism Treatment– a Quick Review

The therapy – It is a simple and comfortable treatment, and will not overwhelm children with autism.

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Suggested period of treatment – It is best to complete a minimum of 40 hours of HBOT therapy spread over 30 days to reap maximum benefits. This can be followed by a remedial program on a long-term basis. However, when determining the treatment period, the doctor’s advice should be followed.

Results – Remarkable changes were noticed in as little as 3 weeks in some patients. The actual time period to see results may depend on the severity of various conditions.

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Side effects – Little to none side effects have been observed. There could be a slight barotrauma to the ears and sinus, or vision changes, both of which are temporary. Oxygen toxicity was noted in sporadic cases.

Conclusion

HBOT for autism is fast emerging as one of the most favored alternative treatment methods for patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders.HBOT treatment increases the absorption of oxygen by the body, leading to reduced inflammation in the brain. It lowers oxidative stress, stimulates cell growth, and promotes self-healing.

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In children undergoing HBOT for autism, significant improvements in their speech, social, cognitive and behavioral skills were observed.

As there is no one definitive cure or treatment for autism, HBOT for autism presents an excellent and safe alternative treatment option for patients suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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