Monday, March 16, 2009

High Pressure Chambers Proves Positive for Children with Autism

Ongoing research using high-pressure chambers–also known as hyperbaric chambers–is now being considered in the treatment for autism. A newly released report on a controlled study utilizing 40 one-hour chamber treatments over a four-week period, showed positive results in children with autism.

Autism affects one in every 150 children in the U.S. and there is no current cure for the condition. Recently published in the journal BMC, this new small study was conducted to determine the affects of hyperbaric pressure treatment on children with autism. The study involved 62 children in the U.S., ranging in ages from two to seven, with varying degrees of autism. They were divided into two groups, the treatment group and the control.

The treatment group was treated in the hyperbaric chamber with 1.3 atmospheric pressure and 24 percent oxygen and the control group was given 1.03 of pressurized room air and 21 percent oxygen. The study was blind, with the children not knowing which treatment they were receiving, which potentially provided truer results. After the completion of forty one-hour treatments, over four weeks, the treatment group showed significant improvements with receptive language, social interaction, and eye contact, with nine of the children in the treatment group reporting, “Very much improved” or “Much improved” results, with the control group only having two children who reported the same results. Eighty percent of the treatment group showed improvement, but only 38 percent of the control group improved. Hyperbaric chamber treatments seemed to have no significant side effects, with some children suffering tantrums or claustrophobia while in the chamber.

Dr. Daniel A. Rossignol of the International Child Development Resource Center in Melbourne, Fla., the study's lead author who has two children who suffer with autism said, “We wanted to do a formal study that looked to see if this was even a valid treatment." The team hopes their study will initiate other research involving the high-pressure treatment. The study’s physicians offer hyperbaric chamber treatment in their practices, which is mentioned in their study as a possible conflict of interest. More studies involving hyperbaric chambers will need to be conducted before the therapy should be recommended as treatment.

Autism has become a hot topic over the past few years, with more and more children being diagnosed with the condition. Parents of autistic children want what is best for their children, and in hopes of finding that, they may try any new treatment options, within reason. Even though the treatment has not officially been tapped as an official recommendation for autism treatment, it warrants additional research and gives hope to parents of autistic children.

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