Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. (Medical Research Update)

The Exceptional Parent, July 2002 | Go to article overview

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. (Medical Research Update)


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT, HBO, HBO2) uses a special chamber to allow a person to breathe 100 percent pure oxygen while the pressure in the chamber is higher than one atmosphere. HBOT first received approval from the FDA as a treatment for divers' decompression sickness (the bends). Additional indications for HBOT use can be divided into two categories circulatory conditions and wound repair.

CIRCULATORY & WOUND HEALING

Providing pure oxygen at higher-than-normal pressure counteracts the effects of these conditions. In carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness and smoke inhalation, the added oxygen returns the mix of blood gases to normal; whereas in an air or gas embolism the higher pressure bursts the bubble obstructing a blood vessel and normal blood flow is restored.

In wound healing, higher pressure speeds up the oxygenation process, killing bacteria and allowing the wound to heal. Hence, an injury will heal faster at sea level than an identical one at 8000 feet.

TREATING CEREBRAL PALSY (CP)

CP is thought to result from an injury or insult to the brain, prenatally or perinatally, that creates lesions. It is a collection of disorders, not a disease, and the degree of each disorder can vary. Someone with CP is likely to have hypertonia--spasticity--of one or more groups of muscles. The likelihood is high that individuals with CP will have some degree of developmental delay and possibly a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

There is no cure for CP at this time, only amelioration of symptoms. Among the therapeutic modalities used have been physical, occupational and/or speech therapy, patterning, selective dorsal rhizotomies, intrathecal baclofen pumps, and injections of botulinum toxin A.

Although it is a so-called "off-label" use, CP has been treated with HBOT since the mid-1980s. …

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