So what does your child with special needs have in common with some of the world’s most amazing athletes? The answer is that they may both find hyperbaric therapy or HBOT, as a tool to speed up healing to the tissues in their body and at the same time decrease the inflammation. Terrell Owens, Jeremy Shockey, and many other professional athletes have come to depend on mild HBOT therapy to help their bodies recover quickly, regain strength, and feel better.
So What Is Hyperbaric Therapy or HBOT?
First let us be clear that HBOT therapy is not new and was developed by the Navy to treat their deep sea divers who suffered from “the Bends” or decompression sickness which comes from ascending to the surface too quickly after a deep dive. There are two major types of chambers, hard and soft. Hard chambers have been in use since the beginning of hyperbaric medicine and are capable of applying 2+ ATA or atmospheres. The patient breathes 100% oxygen intermittently while under pressure greater than 1 atmosphere. These units are not portable and usually found in hospitals.
Soft hyperbaric chambers also known as mild hyperbaric chambers are portable and are filled with compressed ambient air from 2 to 4.5 pounds per square inch. (1.3 ATA max) This is the equivalent of 11 feet below sea level. The patients usually breathe oxygen enriched air usually through an oxygen concentrator which is usually 80% to 90% oxygen, not 100%. These are the types of chambers that are owned by professional athletes who often sleep in them.
So how does HBOT work?
The increased pressure allows the blood plasma and other liquids of the body to absorb additional oxygen thus greatly increasing oxygen uptake by the cells, tissues, glands, organs, brain, and fluids of the body. The resulting uptake of oxygen allows for increased circulation to areas with swelling or inflammation. At the same time, the increased pressure decreases swelling and inflammation. Oxygen is then utilized by the body for vital cell functions. Healthier cells equals healthier tissues, and organs. The human body is capable of healing itself when it has what it needs. This sounds simple mostly because it is. The science of this process is rooted in two long proven laws, Boyle’s Law and Henry’s Law.
I have heard that HBOT use for conditions like Autism and Cerebral Palsy (CP) are Off Label Uses. What does that mean?
Quite frankly, this refers to whether or not your insurance company will pay for HBOT treatments. If you are truly interested in learning about HBOT we highly recommend that you read Oxygen Revolution by Paul G. Harch who is the authority on HBOT and has been called on to testify before congress about the many benefits of HBOT therapy. His book is filled with actual patient case studies and will answer many of your questions.