Hyperbarics in the Treatment of Autism

by Dr. Eliot Slater

Some 70 years have passed since Dr. Leo Kanner wrote his groundbreaking article on autism and a few facts have emerged. It is now known that some areas of the autistic brain are hypoperfused and there are areas where inflammation exists and the mitochondria are not functioning normally. Since it is also now known that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can overcome hypoperfusion, diminish inflammation and reverse mitochondrial dysfunction, it has gained traction as a way to treat autism.

Because clinical studies are not standardized and the backgrounds of investigators may vary, the findings and conclusions of studies involving HBOT in the treatment of autism have not always been consistent. The results, however, of a randomized, multicenter, double blind study, by Dr. Daniel A. Rossignol1, a leading investigator in this field, were quite encouraging.

In this study, 62 children, ages 2 to 7 years, were randomly assigned to two groups. Half of the children were treated with HBOT. The other half went into an HBOT chamber but were not exposed to HBOT. Prior to and following treatment, all children were given an array of behavioral tests. Analysis of these tests showed that those treated with HBOT had significantly better results in overall functioning, social interaction, eye contact and awareness than those who were not treated.

In his conclusion, Rossignol wrote: “Given the positive findings of this study and others, and in view of the shortage of proven treatments for individuals with autism, the use of HBOT appears to be a promising treatment for children with autism.”

Dr. Eliot Slater, retired board certified anesthesiologist, was professionally trained at Massachusetts General Hospital and, while on staff, held clinical appointments from Mass General and Harvard Medical School. He subsequently became chief of anesthesia at Union Hospital, in Lynn, Massachusetts, and went on to hold the same position at Salem Hospital, in Salem. Dr. Slater now focuses on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and is medical director at Sun Hyperbarics, a state-of-the art facility located at 2866 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. For a consultation, call 954-834-1280. 

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