Hyperbaric Therapy Benefits for Autism: An Alternate Lifeline for Autistic Kids 

Hyperbaric Therapy Benefits for Autism: An Alternate Lifeline for Autistic Kids 

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a collective term used for a series of neurodevelopmental issues, which impact 1 in every 166 children. Individuals who suffer from ASD by birth show signs of neuroinflammation, cerebral hypoperfusion, gastrointestinal inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, dysbiosis, impaired toxin detoxification, and neurotransmitter abnormalities. These abnormalities in autistic children cause them to exhibit repetitive behaviors and decrease their ability to communicate, verbally and non-verbally and socially interact. 

Hyperbaric therapy improves these symptoms in autistic children by offering an optimum amount of oxygen to the body and an oxygen-deprived brain. This therapy corrects multiple functions inside our brain and body; reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and regulating healing. For this reason, we have discussed hyperbaric therapy benefits for Autism in the following sections. Read on for more information.

Hyperbaric Therapy Benefits for Autism

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the process of inhaling pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. Inside the HBOT chamber, the pressure is increased and 100% oxygen is circulated. Due to the high pressure, the body of the patient can dissolve oxygen in body fluids like plasma, lymph, and cerebral spinal fluids. As a result, oxygen delivery is improved to areas which have low oxygen supply, such as inflamed regions in the brain. Without high pressure, our body can carry oxygen only through red blood cells. Hence, when there’s inflammation or other issues in the body, oxygen supply is hampered and healing is restricted in these areas.

With high inflammation, oxidation stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction, the situation of the autistic child degrades. We currently have only a few medications that can help in reducing symptoms. Without a proper treatment option, many doctors and parents utilize hyperbaric therapy benefits for autism to reduce severe complications of this condition. HBOT is used to improve both physiological and behavioral abnormalities. Here’s how:

  1. Aid in Inflammation

Multiple children who have ASD suffer from neuroinflammation, gastrointestinal inflammation, and immune dysregulation. Some studies suggest that the inflammation markers are a result of increased TNF-alpha levels and gastrointestinal inflammation present is very much resembling inflammatory bowel syndrome. Hyperbaric therapy benefits for autism include aid for these inflammatory responses. 

According to the given data, HBOT therapy can decrease cytokine production, including a reduction in TNF-alpha, IL-1, interferon-gamma, and IL-6. Other studies indicate that HBOT can reduce IBD and its impact on the body. Hence, when HBOT is offered to autistic children at 2ATA  or higher pressure, inflammation reduces due to the processes triggered through the delivery of pure oxygen.  

A study conducted with 18 autistic children revealed some hyperbaric therapy benefits for autism. Of the 18, 12 children were given HBOT at 1.3 ATA and 24% oxygen, and the remaining were given HBOT at 1.5 ATA and 100% oxygen. Both groups showed major improvements in c-reactive protein. This means that inflammation was reduced and behavioral improvements were observed.  

  1. Improvement in Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Similar to inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction is also common in children with an autism spectrum disorder. This indicates that the energy production abilities of the cells are impaired. Considering the complexity of the situation, we have very limited treatment options for this particular issue. 

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However, hyperbaric therapy benefits for autism also includes improvement in mitochondrial dysfunction. With the proper supply of oxygen in the body, ATP production in muscle tissues can be improved. This means that new reactive oxygen species can be created, which can improve mitochondrial functions and the replication process.

In a trial, 69 patients with restricted cerebral blood flow and increased CSF levels were included. These individuals had mitochondrial dysfunction. When all these patients were offered HBOT therapy at 100% oxygen and 1.5 ATA, brain oxygen levels improved and cerebral blood flow normalized. 

  1. Reduced Oxidative Stress

When our body starts producing more free radicals than antioxidants, it suffers from oxidative stress. In autistic children, oxidative stress is a major cause of behavioral issues and other related illnesses.

While originally, it can be assumed that HBOT can lead to an increase in oxidative stress due to the way it functions, but it does not. The hyperbaric therapy accelerates the production of the enzyme, including catalase, glutathione peroxidase, heme-oxygenase, and paraoxonase. The improvement in these enzyme levels is associated with reduced oxidative stress in the body. 

For example, in this study, 48 autistic children were given hyperbaric therapy at 1.3 ATA for 32 days. Before the study, the superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase levels were measured. After the study, levels of these enzymes were improved. Due to the improvement in levels of these enzymes, which act as antioxidants, the overall improvement in the autistic symptoms were seen in children. 

Conclusion

Hyperbaric therapy benefits for autism include improvements in cerebral perfusion, inflammation, oxidative stress, and other behavioral enhancements. This therapy when given at a designated pressure helps autistic children to enhance their verbal and non-verbal skills and behave more appropriately in social settings. However, before considering this therapy for autistic children, consult your medical experts for guidance. With the right pressure setting and therapy schedule, you can improve your child’s health and quality of life.  

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