Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for autism has come up as an effective alternative treatment for children suffering from the neurodevelopmental disorder. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or HBOT is a treatment that involves inhaling oxygen in a pressurized chamber. It has been accepted as a successful treatment for many disorders like Carbon Monoxide poisoning, arterial gas embolism and more.
97% of oxygen in our body is carried by hemoglobin for circulation throughout the human body. With additional oxygen supply in the body, the percentage oxygen content of hemoglobin increases to 100%. Body tissues receive this additional oxygen but still, the plasma is not oxygen enriched. A treatment in higher pressure of oxygen enhances the oxygen content in the plasma. The body tissues become oxygen rich and in turn provide energy to the entire body. The oxygen deficient body tissues get oxygen and thus, many abnormalities in the body are healed. HBOT has been so effective that studies have been carried out to find the effects of administering HBOT at lower pressure. The studies have indicated positive results for neurological disorders.
What is Autism?
Autism can be characterized by impaired communication and social interaction along with some abnormal behaviors. Autism affected individuals display a number of behavioral and physiological abnormalities including cerebral hypoperfusion, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Rigorous tests have been carried out with autism affected children to study the effects of HBOT on these physiological abnormalities. Interestingly, positive behavioral changes were observed and recommendation of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for autism has been made.
The effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on several physiological abnormalities associated with ASD was studied, as discussed below:
1. Effect of HBOT on Cerebral Hypoperfusion
Cerebral hypoperfusion has been reported in many autism affected patients. This cerebral hypoperfusion can be considered the reason behind many impaired emotions and behaviors. Studies were conducted on several individuals with hypoperfusion. The results were that post HBOT treatment, improvement in perfusions of frontal lobe, temporal lobe and other areas of brain was observed. These studies proved that treatment of hypoperfusion with HBOT brought positive behavioral changes in children.
2. Effect of HBOT on Inflammation
Various types of inflammation is one of the common symptoms of autism. Some individuals with autism display neuro-inflammation and gastro-inflammation. Inflammatory markers have been observed in affected children. HBOT treatment has been reported to help in inflammation, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the result of pro-inflammatory cytokines present in the human body. HBOT reduces the effect of these Cytokines. This anti-inflammatory impact may not necessarily be the effect of oxygen supply and can be related to the pressure applied.
3. Effect on Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress has been reported in some children affected with autism. It has been a concern that oxidative stress can be increased through heightened ROS generation from higher oxygen supply. However, it has been found that HBOT upregulates antioxidant enzyme production. The increase in levels of antioxidant enzymes can offer protection from damage due to ROS.
The correct impact of HBOT can only be brought with the right amount of pressure. Till date, many studies have been carried out and many benefits of HBOT have been discovered. Though Hyperbaric Treatment for autism has become very popular, yet many more studies are to be carried out to find out the full utility and impact of HBOT.