Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment: A Review from a Special Needs Father
When you are the parent to a special needs child, you are always doing research in some form or another. Researching medical documents, Internet searches and connecting with other parents are just some of the ways of researching possible solutions for a special needs parent. One never knows when they might find the solution they have been searching for.
For my wife and I, our search led us to: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. After going through piles of research and speaking to different references, we decided to go forward with this treatment.
A Summary Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Now then, what is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT)?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment is not a new process; it has been around for years in the treatment of many different conditions. Some of the conditions that have been treated previously include: skin graphs and flaps, decompression sickness, burns, severe anemia, wound healing and more. Recently, the following areas are being treated with this treatment: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Crohn’s Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, ADD/ADHD and many more. The main benefit of the treatment is the application of oxygen to speed up the healing process.
There have been case studies that show the treatment has produced more dramatic results for children with such conditions as Cerebral Palsy or Autism. This and other research has led more and more parents and patients to use this therapy for a possible, long-term therapy to assist them with the various conditions.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or HBOT, is a non-invasive method of using 100% oxygen while under an increased atmospheric pressure in a managed and controlled body chamber. The chamber is a container that the patient can sit or lie in while absorbing the 100% oxygen under a prescribed pressure.
The Process We Took
The first step was to meet with the Doctor at the facility to go over the process and facility as well as an examination to make sure my daughter was able to go through the treatments. There were no issues with my daughter going through the therapy and we moved on to the next step.
The second step was to setup a schedule for treatments. We were put on a schedule of five days/ week for four weeks. At that point we would gauge the progress and decide if we wanted to move on with an additional four weeks of treatment.
One thing needs to be pointed out (and was made very clear to us) – Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments are usually not covered by insurance and will require payment “out of pocket”. Luckily for us, we had a Hyperbaric center within driving distance to us and offered fees that were less than other treatment centers further away. Even though the cost was still substantial, we did not have to pay travel or lodging fees to go to another treatment facility located out of our area.
Since the chamber is a 100% oxygen environment, my daughter couldn’t have any powders, creams, gels, etc on her. We were provided clothes to change her into…very similar to comfortable pajamas.
The facility provided televisions with DVD players for my daughter to watch during the treatment. We could bring in DVD movies or we could pick from their collection of movies.
The time my daughter was in the chamber was approximately 90 minutes. Fifteen minutes to compress, sixty minutes for the treatment and fifteen minutes to decompress. Some patients may have some issues with their ears in the chamber, but our daughter had no issues during the treatments.
The chamber had the capacity to accommodate one adult and one child while lying down. My daughter had no issues sitting or lying down while watching something on the television. Usually she would watch one of her favorite cartoon shows or a children’s movie.
The first day of treatment was the most difficult for getting her to go inside the chamber. Understandably, going into this chamber for the first time can be a scary experience. After some coaxing, and showing her how it worked, she got into the chamber. All went to plan during the treatment and she came out happy to see us. After that day, I only had one other day that she didn’t want to go into the chamber, but it was only temporary. All other times, she would wheel her wheelchair right over and have me help her into the chamber. She would make funny faces to me while watching television through the see-through chamber.
Through all of this, the visits with my daughter to the facility wouldn’t have been as enjoyable if not for the great staff. Anything that was needed with my daughter or just to talk on a personal level, they were there to help out. I am grateful to have such a caring and knowledgeable set of people to work with while I was taking my daughter to have her treatments. I want to personally thank Renee and Brian for their caring and support during our stay with them at the Hyperbaric Center.
My Daughter Before Hyperbaric Treatments
At the time of the treatments, my daughter was three years old. We have recently completed all the treatments and she recently turned four years old.
Since birth, she has had many different issues. At two months of age, she was admitted into the PCICU area of a large children’s hospital with different symptoms including respiratory distress. The hospital was unable to find or tell us what happened. She suddenly got better. At one point, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. After that, we have gone through many different specialists. Most have not been able to give us any answers. After visiting one particular specialist, we were told a current diagnosis of: Ataxic Cerebral Palsy.
Early on, we were able to find out my daughter has Ataxia and Hypertonia. Until the Ataxic Cerebral Palsy diagnosis, we were mostly in the dark about what was causing my child’s Ataxia and Hypertonia. Even today, we are still unaware of the cause of the other conditions my daughter is experiencing. This has led us, along with many other parents, to find alternatives for treatment and resolutions.
My daughter has different areas that are impacted by her condition. At four years of age, she is unable to stand, walk, speak, control some of her gross and fine motor skills, and more. Her Ataxia causes her to shake, at times uncontrollably, and can make simple movements more difficult. She has been through different tests, medications and therapies. She has different gait trainers, walkers and a wheelchair. Before the treatments, she was only showing marginal improvements in learning to make sounds and speak as well as minimal improvement to her gross and fine motor skills.
My Daughter After Hyperbaric Treatments
It is now a few weeks after completing a total of eight weeks of HBOT. She has recently celebrated her fourth birthday. The difference compared to before her undergoing HBOT is noticeable, not only to but also, to others including my parents and my wife’s family.
Before undergoing the treatments, we took video of my daughter doing things such as crawling, moving around and general playing. We have now taken a video in the last week for comparison.
The results between the videos are indisputable.
The way my daughter moves, crawls, reaches for objects and even tries to speak has improved. Her mannerisms, shakiness, gross and fine motor skills have improved to the point where it is noticeable to others that don’t see her on a regular basis. On her own, she has started to work on standing more, interacting more with television programs with sounds and sometimes even tries to speak words.
One of the things my wife and I have noticed was that she is doing the hand sign for “I love you”. She is able to bend her fingers enough to form this sign and do it on a regular basis.
Overall, others, as well as my wife and I, have noticed the improvements in my daughter’s physical and mental condition. It is our belief that the HBOT treatments are indeed a viable treatment that any special needs parent should look into.
We are currently done with treatments for this year, but, we will be looking to doing more treatments in the future. Again, I want to personally thank the staff at the Hyperbaric Center and everyone that was instrumental in helping us administer these treatments for my daughter.
If anyone out there is looking into or would like to know more about Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments for their children, I would be happy to share my experiences with you.
Photo Courtesy of South Florida Center for H.O.P.E. (Hyperbaric Oxygen Producing Environment) https://www.iconichealthmed.com/
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