Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment where a person breathes in pure oxygen. Typically, the therapy involves sitting in a pressurized chamber where the air pressure increases to 3 times the normal force. This enables people to gather more oxygen than usual, leading to enhanced healing. The treatment has a variety of uses. Some of the lesser-known reasons to consider HBOT include autism, cerebral palsy, and fibromyalgia.
The therapy has many uses. Most commonly, HBOT is used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning, crush injuries, decompression sickness, diabetic wounds, or cyanide poisoning. However, hyperbaric treatment may also be beneficial for some additional conditions. Patients should always consult with a healthcare provider before starting hyperbaric treatment.
Oxygen therapy for autism
Although research is ongoing, some studies have pointed to the benefits of HBOT for children with autism. Oxygen therapy leads to increased oxygen delivery to the brain and may also have anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed that about 75% of children with autism experienced an improvement in social development, fine motor and hand-eye coordination, language development, gross motor development, and self-help skills after undergoing only 10 sessions of HBOT.
Treatment for cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is not on the list of official uses for HBOT since research is ongoing. However, numerous clinical studies show the benefit of the therapy for cerebral palsy. In most cases, HBOT is helpful for children who developed cerebral palsy due to a brain injury, rather than as a genetic condition. In one clinical trial, children received 40 hyperbaric treatment sessions at varying degrees. In both groups, children experienced improvements in attention, memory, gross motor function, speech, and functional skills.
HBOT for fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition that can cause chronic pain, sleep problems, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, numbness in the limbs, headaches, and more. Some research has pointed to the benefits of HBOT in treating fibromyalgia symptoms. In one study, patients had hyperbaric treatment 3 days per week for a total of 20 sessions. The researchers found that patients experienced an improvement in pain and symptoms of anxiety after only 10 sessions.
Is HBOT right for me?
Hyperbaric therapy is highly effective for the right patient. People who have had ear surgery or trauma, have a cold or fever or have certain chronic conditions should not undergo the treatment. For more information about whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the right treatment, consult a healthcare provider.