There is a growing interest in the potential role of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Cerebral Palsy. HBOT can play a role in helping the functioning of children suffering with Cerebral Palsy.
Cerebral Palsy typically manifests itself by two years of age, resulting in a motor deficit causing ineffective motor control. The disability is caused by a disruption of oxygen supply to the brain (which most often happens during birth). It is a non-progressive disorder that is often associated with epilepsy and other speech, vision and intellect abnormalities. As the most common motor disability in childhood, the disorder affects approximately two to three of every 1000 school-aged children.
Sadly, there is no known medical cure for Cerebral Palsy, and most children rely on supportive care. There are a variety of therapies that can help enhance functional abilities.
Various muscle training exercises are incorporated into programs to improve a child’s strength, flexibility, balance, mobility and motor development. Although a child affected by Cerebral Palsy may have trouble effectively utilizing their gross (and fine) motor skills, it is important to keep the child moving to the best of their ability in order to build strength.
Occupational therapists use a number of alternative strategies and equipment to help children develop independent participation in various daily activities that are routine in the home or school environment. Some of these adaptive equipment include walkers and seating systems.
Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and language therapy are performed to improve a child’s ability to communicate – whether through speech or by using sign language. In some instances, technology is used to assist this process through the use of a computer or voice synthesizer.
Some children respond better to recreational therapy which helps to improve motor skills, speech and general emotional well-being. An example of such therapy is horseback riding.
In addition to the above, HBOT is being used to help treat Cerebral Palsy and has been carefully studied as a therapy. The damage to crucial parts of the brain matter are often due to oxygen deprivation or trauma. HBOT stimulates the damaged tissues with much-needed oxygen for effective functioning.
HBOT is the inhalation of 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber to improve the circulation of oxygen to areas in the body that are otherwise limited. This works by oxygen attaching to hemoglobin in the red blood cells, and being transported through the body via the blood. HBOT increases the delivery of this oxygen to areas of the body that were previously deprived, feeding the tissues this vital substance.
Benefits of HBOT for Cerebral Palsy
According to McDonagh, there is a theory that people with Cerebral Palsy have some inactive brain cells that have the potential to recover if stimulated by an increase in oxygen. Introducing increased oxygen to these cells could reactive them and allow the cells to function normally.
There are cases where various benefits have been reported as a result of using HBOT to treat Cerebral Palsy. Some improvements seen could include better spasticity, cognition, memory and attention. Improved gross and fine motor functioning.
Should My Child Try HBOT?
While there are many reported benefits of HBOT as a treatment for Cerebral Palsy, it is always wise to consult a specialist who can best advice and assess if HBOT is an option for your child. An advanced clinical assessment by a medical provider accredited by AHCA is highly recommended. Before meeting your doctor, you can prepare any questions or concerns that you may have regarding your child’s struggle with Cerebral Palsy, as well as using HBOT as a form of therapy to improve functionality.