As a pediatrician who practices developmental medicine with extra training in “DAN” protocols, I am often asked about my thoughts about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – a treatment that involves putting the patient into a chamber that has increased oxygen and barometric pressure. This treatment is among the highest listed of the complementary and alternative therapies that parents believe have made a difference for their autistic child.

The subject is complicated; any parent will want to take some time to understand what HBOT does, and how they should go about getting the treatment for their child. This blog is starting as a 6 part series – and it may grow larger. Ladies and gents, it should take some time to present and explain all of the pertinent information.

First, the therapy is safe. Only some patients with difficult chronic ear infections could potentially have a problem with equalization, but a good center will be able to assess and handle such a problem. There is no risk of increased seizure activity as has been a concern on some circles. There are thousands and thousands of logged hours that have proven this point. Again, a well-equipped and well-staffed HBOT center will assess a child in such a manner that the parent should feel confident that their child is being observed in a safe environment.

Second, the parent who is concerned that their child “will never get in that thing” hasn’t seen how the children take to the chamber. They really do seem to be OK in there – they look forward to the sessions. Ya-gotta-c-it-2-believe-it.

Third, there are many reports of improvement in speech and language, disruptive behaviors, gastro-intestinal symptoms and general well-being when an adequate number of sessions are performed (depending on the center and the patient’s condition(s) – from 20 to 60 sessions , 1 to 1-1/2 hours per treatment). Therapy is usually done 5 days per week for one month at a time.

In Part II, I will discuss the two types of chambers. Stay tuned.
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