Hyperbaric oxygen treatment, while unproven, is not sounding all so crazy to me the more I look into it. Not too long ago, I posted about my somewhat desperate attempts to find treatments for my son here. Some of you might have thought I was not serious about getting my son this oxygen treatment. I am.
Since I wrote that post, I’ve been exploring what options are available for this therapy. As with anything, there are what seem to be more and less reputable purveyors of the treatment. I saw ads showing oxygen treatments available in chiropractors offices, for home purchase and in medical doctor supervised facilities. I chose to consult with a medical doctor’s office that happens to be in a city near where I live.
Last Wednesday, my son, our senior tutor and I made the trek to the HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment) office. It turned out to be in the basement of an old hospital building that has been converted into an extra campus for a local community college. The location was the third for this doctor (the two others are in different cities further away) and his office was not ready for patients. However, he did not cancel our appointment.
It was kind of weird walking into an office that was not set up to accept patients. I learned that the contractors who were finishing the office had not been able to come so the facility was not yet ready.
The doctor was there with his male assistant who took us straight over to the “chamber” in which my son would be placed for treatment. We spent some time talking to both the assistant and the physician. The little guy was fascinated and nervous about the “tube” as they called it.
He wanted to play with the door.
He wanted to crawl inside.
He wanted to climb out.
Our tutor, who is a wonderful, calm and sweet woman was working desensitization on my son as I spent some time speaking with the doctor and his assistant. What I did learn was that the assistant actually worked on the study of the effects of HBOT on autistic children, to which I referred before. He said he actually saw the improvement in the children that were part of the study as they were working with them.
Here are some of the things I was told:
My son will have to be examined to check his physical condition to undergo the treatment including a check of his ears, lungs and heart. The doctor creates the prescription of just how much oxygen and the duration of the treatment per visit which is, on average, an hour at a time.
He cannot bring any toys with metal parts on them (and obviously no electronic devices) into the chamber because of the worry that the metal, together with the pure oxygen could cause a spark. So, those pictures I saw online of the moms and sons in the chamber with the DVD player? Not true HBOT chambers.
They do not want him to eat inside because it would just be too messy.
He can have water inside and they encourage this to help with popping the ears.
He will probably be recommended to go one hour per day 3-5 days a week for 40 treatments.
My son’s ears will plug and pop due to the increased pressure – like on an airplane. The assistant says that if the plugged ears bother my son, they can reverse the pressure and pop them.
Oxygen treatments will increase your metabolism! (When the tutor and I heard this we both wanted to go in!)
The therapeutic principle behind the HBOT is in an increased infusion of oxygen into the body’s tissues, primarily due to the increased pressure, which can be up to 3 atmospheres (~30 psig) in a Sechrist hyperbaric chamber. The oxygen transported in blood plasma is dramatically increased under hyperbaric conditions. That results in sharply higher oxygen delivery to the tissues, which apparently accelerates healing.
I asked if there was some sort of maintenance program. He said that about 40 treatments is it. That is because the amount of healing that can take place will take place by 40 treatments. There is no need to come back afterward. The treatment will probably reach its maximum potential at 40 treatments.
The “chambers” that look like tents and are sold for home use? They are not sealed in units that provide pressure and pure oxygen. The “chamber” pictured above is sophisticated piece of medical equipment used to treat patients with decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning and for diabetic neuropathy. The ones that are tents use compressed air rather than pure oxygen.
From what I understand, once the kids get used to it, they do not want the parents going in with them. They are fine on their own. Also, the autistic children that he has seen use it, actually express that they are feeling better and look forward to going inside the “tube.”
Of course, this is all information from the people trying to get us to participate in trying it out. But the doctor who runs it is a licensed medical doctor. We will be going back and giving it a try… Part three will be coming soon.