Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy & Autism Spectrum Disorder

There is new hope for parents of autistic children in Hawaii. It has to do with a groundbreaking study on Oahu involving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The results were released and doctors say they are amazing.
The study evaluated the effects of 20 hours of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on 20 children from 3 to 7 years old. One of them was Sarea Beckett's 9-year-old son.
"I felt like someone turned on the light in him," Beckett said. "He was more aware, he was more talkative, he was more open."
Each session, she and her son laid inside the blue tunnel together. The changes she saw in her son's behavior were astonishing and quick.
"After about 4 hours of treatment it was a flood of words," Beckett said. "The length of his sentences increased from 4-word sentences to 10-word sentences."
The results of the study showed significant improvement in 100% of the children in communication, social interaction and creativity.
"The first few kids that came back, I was like 'wow,'" said psychologist Dr. Jan Fitzgerald, "I was just amazed because the kinds of changes I saw you can't teach."
Doctors have discovered that children with autism have chronic inflammation of the brain. The hyperbaric therapy treats that.
"Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a very powerful anti-inflammatory, and works to stop that inflammation, grow new blood vessels." said Dr. Maryellen Markley, of the Hyperbaric Center. "So the inflammation doesn't return."
The best part doctors say, is the results seem to be permanent.
"The overall improvement was in him being more of a normal kid, a normal boy it was fabulous," The study is so important to parents here because Hawaii has one of the largest percentages of autistic children per capita of any state in the United States.