Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment that uses oxygen to speed and enhance the body's natural ability to heal. High dose oxygen therapy is AMA, FDA and Medicare approved. During therapy, the patient breathes 100% oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure. Sessions typically last an hour or two.
Normally, oxygen is almost exclusively carried by red blood cells. During HBOT, there is a substantial increase in the amount of oxygen carried in all body fluids including plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, and intracellular fluids. This allows increased oxygen levels even in areas with poor or compromised blood supply as well as in areas of tissue damage.
In most children with cerebral palsy the damaged areas of the brain do not exist in sharp contrast to regions of completely normal function. In these children, there exists a population of neurons that while alive, are not functioning at optimum capacity. It is these “idling neurons” that respond to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
Increasing tissue oxygen levels produces several important long term therapeutic benefits including enhanced growth of new blood vessels, increased ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria and remove toxins, increase growth of fibroblasts (cells involved in wound healing), and enhanced metabolic activity of previously marginally functioning cells including brain neurons.
Currently, research is taking place in Montreal Canada to study the results of HBOT. Dr. Pierre Marois of McGill University has recently studied 25 children with cerebral palsy, aged 4 to 7 years, who have been treated with 20 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. According to Dr. Marois
“…the results are really incredible! Twenty-three of the 25 children have great results. Twenty-three have amelioration with their spasticity and may have amelioration with speech and cognitive function”.
Further, their published results reveal
“the clinical observations do list numerous functional changes, definite improvements, a large amount in the level of arousal/response to communication. From statistical analysis of the objective estimations we confirm these changes, more particularly on the level of motor functioning like walking and the quality of sitting position, similarly on the level of spasticity. These results are surprising considering the small number of treatments (20), and of extreme importance because it’s the first study documenting objectively the prospects of beneficial effects of HBO in the treatment of children suffering from cerebral palsy.” Marois, P., The Pilot Project on Treatment in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
These results seem extremely promising and in the future I expect to see further studies as well as HBOT being used more commonly to treat cerebral palsy.