Friday, July 22, 2011

Oliver and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Oliver has moderate Spastic Quad Cerebral Palsy, as well as epilepsy and a g-tube. His Mom, Chelsea, decided to try Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) with Oliver after hearing about it online and from other parents. She says that one of the motivating factors to actually give it a try was that the cost was lower than a lot of the other treatments they were researching :) Oliver received HBOT at 15 months, and then again at 22 months. Here's what Chelsea has to say about it:

Describe a typical session:
40 "dives" in a hard chamber lasting approx 1 hour for the actual oxygen part where they wear a hood delivering oxygen. 2 dives a day 6 days a week with a required number of hours in between each dive. Group chamber with one adult per patient. Dives include the time it takes to get to pressure, a specified "depth" equivalent then oxygen treatment starts and then decompression or the slow release of pressure (to mimic that of divers) and then exit the chamber.
Please share some of the changes (good and bad) you saw in your child:
I was looking into SPD treatments (sensory processing disorder) with our OT as he couldn't handle having his hair, hands, body touched and was insanely sensitive to lights, noise, people, etc. There were immediate and dramatic improvements after each session (of 40 dives). After the 2nd session I had my first cuddle in my lap while I pet his head time that we'd ever had. He used to scream/cry/wail pretty much all day long- most CP kids are "fussy". It improved greatly after the 1st session and then he got grumpier leading up to the second session and then it was quite nearly gone after the 2nd (and soon after developed a means of communication to further alleviate the fussiness associated with nonverbal toddlers). The crossing of his eyes decreased (ophthalmologist decreased his eye glass prescription), his high tone/spasticity decreased. His abilities with his mouth specifically increased sucking, desire to suck and chew and eat improved. He voluntarily and functionally was able to bring one hand to his mouth to suck on a finger or part of his hand for the first time (at 22 months of age). His mood and demeanor improved to less fussy overall. Different things happened with his hips and rolling onto his side, as if there was more flexibility there possibly due to decreased spasticity. Bad... one ear got really bad with the redness and he hated his ears being checked. He was fussy in the chamber unless elmo was on.
Would you recommend it to someone in a similar situation?
What information/advice would you give to parents making the decision to try it out?
I was glad that I knew about the options for pressure (1.5 vs 2.0) and that I had used a hyperbaric pediatrician to check him before dives and write the prescription. I was glad that we used a hard and not soft chamber and that we did the whole 40 dives and did more than 1 session. (sorry, not what you asked)
Please share some more details!
I used Dr. Rose in Charlotte, NC and the Miracle Mountain Hyperbaric center in the western Mtns. of NC. We rented someone's trailer to make the stay with my 2 kids and helpers (friends/family) to make it work. We stayed for 3 weeks and it was tough but doable and worth it. I'm glad we fit it in early as it had a profound affect on his mood and abilities that changed so fast it can't be called a coincidence. Oddly enough I didn't "buy into" hbot. I thought it was somewhat of an under-researched scam. We could afford it though- sort of- and couldn't afford to not be doing anything. I was so impressed with the results that we did it a second time and I"m so glad we did. We can't do it again because of his diagnosis with epilepsy. With his lack of oxygen at birth he was prone to getting epilepsy. This is a totally different thing than oxygen-caused injury (including seizures). It scared me at first too but only preemies on 100% oxygen right at birth tend to get these injuries. The risk to the average person is incredibly low especially when HBOT is done properly as it is at MM. They use certified technicians and have emergency protocol and we used that hyperbaric pediatrician. Anyway I would consider doing it again if we could.

For more information, please leave a comment on this post, and check out Chelsea's website.

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