La terapia de oxigenación hiperbárica puede ayudar a niños con autismo

The Autistic Spectrum is a neurological and developmental condition that begins in childhood and lasts a lifetime. This disorder includes what is known as Asperger’s syndrome and the Unspecified Development Disorder.

The main symptoms of autism are two: persistent deficiencies in communication and social interaction and restrictive and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.

Other signs that the child has an autism spectrum disorder are:

  • Lack of interest in other children.
  • They do not share interests (they do not usually point out with their finger what catches their attention to share it with others).
  • Absence of symbolic play (feeding dolls, making kitchens, playing cars as if they were real, etc.).
  • Little visual contact is established and they do not observe the expression of the interlocutor’s face when they are seeing something unusual.
  • Their language, if it exists, is literal (they do not understand jokes, jokes, double meanings or metaphors).
  • Avoid physical contact. They usually have tactile, olfactory, gustatory and auditory hypersensitivity. There is often little sensitivity to pain.
  • They react little to the voice of their parents, which can lead to suspicion of a hearing deficit.
  • They present unusual interests. In addition, they are repetitive and not shared.
  • They can show strange, repetitive and self-stimulating behaviors such as swinging, fluttering or walking on tiptoe, among others.
  • Those who have a more intellectual level, notice that they are different and do not understand what happens to them.

Why can hyperbaric oxygenation treatment (HBOT) be beneficial for autism?

HBOT produces a potential increase in cerebral perfusion. When the patient enters the hyperbaric chamber, he breathes oxygen at a higher atmospheric pressure (1.45 atm) than normal (1 atm). This results in an elevation of the partial blood pressure of oxygen, which produces a greater oxygen supply to the brain and an anti-inflammatory effect.

Research at BMC Pediatrics proposes this painless therapy for the treatment of autism. A randomized, double-blind, controlled study of 62 children found that those who received 40 hours of treatment during a month were:

  • Less irritable.
  • More receptive when people spoke to them.
  • They made more eye contact and were more sociable than those who did not have the hyperbaric chamber treatment.

In the study, it was also observed that they were less sensitive since some autistic children experience sensory overload due to loud noises and background noises.

“It’s not clear why the treatment helped,” says Dan Rossignol, co-author of the study and a physician who treats children with developmental disorders at the International Center for Child Development Resources in Melbourne, Florida. “The chamber pressure can reduce inflammation that is thought to restrict blood flow to brain regions of autistic children who control speech or improve their ability to absorb oxygen,” says the doctor.

It was concluded that performing this type of therapy can:

  • Diminish the qualitative difficulties of social interaction.
  • Reduce a lack of empathy and social reciprocity.
  • Improve the ability to recognize.
  • Respond to gestures and expressions.
  • Improve communication.
  • Improve flexibility in reasoning, behavior, and stereotypes.


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