There are approximately 1.5 million individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States alone and members of the medical fraternity are increasingly relying on a popular alternative treatment solution known as Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy to provide the requisite relief.
To obtain a better perspective on the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder or other Autism related health conditions and the appropriate relief measures, one needs to comprehend the following aspects that have been listed herewith:
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD as it is referred commonly to, is a neurodevelopmental ailment that is known to impair basic cognitive functions such as speech, memory, recognition, motor skills, interactive abilities, etc.
These disabilities lead to repetitive behavior or restricted communication, which further causes exclusion in society and has a negative impact on the emotional balance and wellbeing of the patient. Signs of ASD are displayed by the affected children from an early age.
What Are the Prime Causes Of Autism?
Currently, ASD in patients is being attributed to genetic factors, pre-natal or peri-natal complications, etc. However, these theories are still being researched by the scientific community as specific and concrete evidence regarding the causes of autism are yet to be determined.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is also known to cause other related health conditions that can have a serious impact on the wellbeing of patients such as:
· Cerebral Hypoperfusion
· Mitochondrial Dysfunction
· Immune Dysregulation
· Gastro-Intestinal Inflammation
· Neurotransmitter Abnormailities
Early diagnosis of this disorder, coupled with adequate treatment solutions such as Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy, can significantly reduce the negative effects and aid in the recovery process in autistic individuals.
What is Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy?
Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy or Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a non-invasive alternative treatment solution that relies on the administration of systemic oxygen to patients that have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions.
HBOT has been prescribed to individuals since the early 60s’ for varied health afflictions ranging from Decompression Sickness in Divers, Gas Embolism, Chronic Wounds, etc.
In recent years, medical professionals are exceedingly optimistic about prescribing Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy for patients with Autism related complications, after observing remarkable improvements in their health post the HBOT sessions.
What Is the Process Of Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy?
It is imperative for an autistic patient to undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation by certified hyperbaric specialists prior to the commencement of the hyperbaric treatment, as the duration of the therapy will depend on the severity of the ailment.
Thereon, the patient is placed in a pressurized, cylindrical chamber that is fitted with a large clear glass-sealed window. The capsule is sterile and comes equipped with a bed wherein the patient can lie down and read a book or watch television through the glass panel, so as not to get bored during the HBOT session.
The HBOT procedure commences with the administration of pure oxygen to the patient through a tube or facemask at enhanced pressure levels, that are approximately three times higher than normal atmospheric pressure and can vary between 1.2 atm to 5 atm.
The entire process is conducted under the supervison of a qualified hyperbaric expert. The patient has the option of undergoing this therapy either at a large medical facility in a multiplace chamber or in a monoplace chamber installed at their residence. HBOT also offers the flexibility of administering the treatment through portable hyperbaric chambers that can be installed at home with relative ease.
What Is the Prescribed Duration Of Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy?
The recommended duration of the therapy is between 60 to 90 minutes per session, two to four times a week. The sessions should at least be conducted over a period of two or more months, depending on the time taken by the autistic patient to reach near-normal levels of cognition.
How Does the Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy Provide Relief For Autism Related Health Conditions?
The efficacy of HBOT Therapy whilst treating four major medical conditions related to autism are mentioned herein:
· Cerebral Hypoperfusion:
As per recent studies, cerebral hypoperfusion occurs due to the inflammation of brain tissues in autism patients, wherein an increase in perivascular macrophages and microglia leads to the hardening of the blood vessel walls, thereby reducing the lumen size. This in turn limits the oxygen levels in the blood that is supplied to the cerebral area and leads to cognitive irregularities such as repetitive behavior or impairment of cognition and comprehension. If left untreated, Cerebral Hypoperfusion can lead to a serious condition known as Hypoxia.
Hyperbaric Chamber therapy is believed to infuse an increased concentration of anti-inflammatory properties inot the blood during the treatment. HBOT boosts the oxygenated blood flow to the oxygen deprived areas of the brain, thereby reducing the inflammation of the affected tissue instantly and accelerating the restoration process of the impaired cognitive functions by fresh cell regeneration through a process typically known as Angiogenesis.
· Oxidative Stress:
Autism patients tend to suffer from Oxidative Stress as it primarily occurs due to an imbalance of pro-oxidants and anti-oxidants in the brain. Research of autism induced oxidative stress have indicated a reduction in antioxidant enzymes like lower serum glutathione, superoxide dismutase, etc. and an upsurge in pro-oxidants such as malondialdehyde that can cause lipid peroxidation. In a few cases, an increase in a free radical known as red blood cell nitric oxide has been noticed. These are believed to be detrimental to the cerebral tissue.
Hyperbaric Chamber therapy is known to reduce lipid peroxidation to a large extent by lowering malondialdehyde levels and also proliferating antioxidants like superoxide dismutase. This balance is known to reduce oxidative stress in patients after continuing their HBOT treatment sessions over a specific period of time.
· Mitochondrial Dysfunction:
An upsurge in creatine kinase, alanine, aspartate aminotransferase, ammonia, and fasting lactic acid production in the brain can induce mitochondrial dysfunction. A marked decline in pyruvate or carnitine levels and hypoxia can lead to this condition.
The enhanced oxygen introduced in the blood plasma during HBOT ameliorates mitochondrial dysfunction by curbing further destruction of healthy mitochondria, and encourages the reactivation of dormant cells.
· Gastro-Intestinal Inflammation:
Patients with Autism are known to develop enterocolitis and ileocolonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia (LNH) in the stomach, small intestine, and the colon due to mucosal inflammation. These conditions are the key reasons that cause irritable bowel syndrome in autistic patients. Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy mitigates the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-1b, IL-6, and TNF-a. It facilitates the regeneration of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine that aids in reducing the Gastro-intestinal inflammation to near normalcy.
Apart from these benefits, Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy is also known for being extremely effective in treating other autism related disorders such as Neurotransmitter Abnormalities, Dysbiosis, Immune Dysregulation, Impaired Porphyrin Production, and many other conditions.