A recent and promising treatment for cerebral palsy is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), where a patient receives 60- or 90-minute-long exposure to 100% oxygen at controlled pressure. This therapy is designed to facilitate healing in the brain by increasing the level of oxygen in the patient's blood by up to 2000%. The high level of oxygen in the blood increases the oxygen in the brain cells. The course of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is often once- or twice-daily sessions, five or six days a week, for about 40 treatments as a test phase.
More Oxygen for Healing
For children with cerebral palsy, HBOT is typically performed at 1.5 atmosphere of pressure (ATA), which is equivalent to about 16 feet below sea level. The child simply sits in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber or room, often with a parent alongside him or her in the chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been conducted on very young children; there are only minimal risks. The most common complaint is minor ear discomfort, like that experienced in a descending or ascending airplane. This can be counteracted by various techniques to equalize the pressure in the ears.
Adding Oxygen and Reducing Swelling
HBOT significantly increases the amount of oxygen at the brain's cellular level, which may revive the oxygen-starved areas of the brain. In addition, HBOT can constrict blood vessels and thereby reduce the swelling of brain tissue that is present in some patients with cerebral palsy.
Improvements such as lessened spasticity and better vision, speech, and hearing have been observed in many cerebral palsy patients treated with HBOT. However, the improvements brought about by HBOT, if any, vary from patient to patient. Also, HBOT cannot cure cerebral palsy.
The Sooner, the Better
The type of damage to the brain and the amount of damage to the brain vary widely among cerebral palsy patients. HBOT is a way to maximize the recovery from the brain damage. The earlier that this therapy is performed, the better the chance of recovery of brain cells. Even so, older children and adults have shown apparent improvements from HBOT.
Research on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Although HBOT is a relatively new treatment for disorders such as cerebral palsy, there have been several clinical studies examining its utility. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Center, McGill University in Montreal, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and other institutions have conducted HBOT studies. The results indicate that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be a truly valuable tool for helping individuals with cerebral palsy.
If your child has cerebral palsy and you think a medical error is to blame, you should contact an attorney to learn more about your legal options. The costs of treating cerebral palsy add up quickly and you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. Contact us today to arrange a complimentary and confidential consultation with an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer.