Some birth injuries can be cured through therapy, and while other birth injuries can’t be cured, therapy helps to make the child more comfortable. Just as there are varying forms of birth injuries, so there are varying forms of therapy, ranging from something as seemingly simple as occupational therapy, to something maybe a little more complex like hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a procedure in which a hyperbaric chamber is filled with 100% oxygen, and then the chamber is pressurized to greater than 1 atmosphere. The patient is put in this chamber for anywhere from 90-120 minutes.
There are two different forms of chambers: the monoplace chamber or the multiplace chamber. The monoplace chamber is often the cheaper option as it only pressurizes one room, but the downside is that the patient has less interaction with the medical personnel. In the multiplace chamber, the staff can interact with the patient during the procedure, and may require a controlled decompression afterward depending on how long they had been pressurized in the chamber with the patient.
What are the Benefits of HBOT?
With the use of pure, 100% oxygen, babies can benefit from HBOT in ways that traditional methods of treatment may not supply.
For instance, hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps to treat patients with brain injuries, cerebral palsy, and victims of a stroke. If you believe your baby to be the victim of a birth-related brain injury including internal brain bleeding, brain hemorrhage, or lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain, this may be a beneficial form of treatment as it decreases pressure.
What Outcome Can Be Expected from HBOT?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is considered experimental treatment designed to decrease the pressure that the patient experiences in the brain. Often patients (or rather families of patients) are unsatisfied with the outcomes of the treatment, not because there were any adverse reactions but because they expect instant success.
Often, the rate of patients who try this kind of therapy have so many different varying types of brain injuries –from mild to severe, from acute to chronic phases, with differing degrees of the type of disability- that it’s hard for physicians to give an accurate assessment of what to expect after the therapy.
If Outcomes Vary, Why Do Patients Want This Therapy?
At the very least, hyperbaric oxygen therapy heals the existing wounds that may exist in tissue. If due to a brain injury, the brain isn’t signaling clots or wounds within the tissue to be healed, the increase of oxygen carried in the blood plasma allows those wounds to be healed. This is especially important if there are wounds, excess fluid, or blood clots in the brain as the influx of oxygen allows the body to heal those areas.
If your child has a brain injury or cerebral palsy, there may have been large sections of tissue either in the body or in the brain that have become dormant, and increasing oxygen in the body overall brings life back into those areas. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy isn’t recommended as the only therapy for children with these birth injuries, but combining this treatment with other treatment will make your child feel better overall.