picture of dice lined up to spell autism for post Reviving Brain Health - Hyperbaric Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Reviving Brain Health – Hyperbaric Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism, a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder, presents challenges in diagnosis due to its subtle signs and symptoms. However, hyperbaric therapy for autism offers some hope by utilising oxygen therapy in a pressurised environment. This innovative approach has shown promising results in reducing inflammation, oxidative stress, and improving brain development, potentially alleviating non-core symptoms and reducing the risk of comorbidities associated with autism spectrum disorders.

Since the condition is so subtle, at least in the initial stages, many children living with autism spectrum disorders remain undiagnosed till late. However, now science has understood that autism is a relatively common neurodevelopmental disorder. Thus, now CDC US says that about one in 36 (2.8%) children are born with autism1.

Generally, neurodevelopmental disorders are quite challenging to manage. Nonetheless, it is worth understanding that a child’s brain has a high level of plasticity. It means that if any condition is diagnosed early and timely support is provided, the child’s brain can readily undergo significant transformation.

However, one can understand that when it comes to treating young children, there are many limitations. Autism is often reliably diagnosed at the age of two. At this age, using harsh chemical drugs is not a good idea. Moreover, no medical drug is known to help cure autism. Autism is mainly managed through behavioural therapy or occupational therapy.

It means that once diagnosed, doctors teach children living with autism to effectively cope with their disability since they cannot cure it. Hence, hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy provides much hope for such children since it may alter the course of the disease. In addition, it may boost brain development.

Role of hyperbaric therapy For autism spectrum disorders

In the last few decades, researchers have developed a better understanding of autism spectrum disorders. They now know that autism is not just a neurodevelopmental disorder. It may even have other physical signs and symptoms and thus the need to treat the condition.

Therefore, studies show that autism is characterized by neuroinflammation, gastrointestinal issues, low-grade inflammation, immune dysregulation, higher oxidative stress, greater risk of dysbiosis, mitochondrial dysfunction, and more. Unfortunately, HBO may not help eliminate all these issues.

Still, it can reduce inflammation, and oxidative stress, boost immunity, improve neurotransmitter abnormalities, and much more2.

Numerous studies are confirming the benefits of hyperbaric therapy for autism. Regular HBO treatment results in positive changes in the child’s psychology and behavior2. Overall, studies show that HBO is not only good for improving brain development in such children or enhancing social communication, but it may also improve non-core symptoms. In addition, it may lower the risk of other comorbidities like anxiety, stress, and mood disorders3,4.

Though multiple studies are confirming its benefits in autism, it is worth understanding that in children generally hyperbaric oxygen is given at just slightly higher pressure than atmospheric pressure to minimize the risk of hyperbaric injuries. Further, to reduce the risk of barotrauma, trained specialist must carry out any such treatment. Though HBO is relatively safe for children, it may cause ear barotrauma in some cases.

To sum up, autism is quite a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a higher risk of various comorbidities. Unfortunately, there are no pharmacological means to manage the condition effectively. Thus, hyperbaric therapy for autism offers hope for those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.


  1. Autism Prevalence Higher, According to Data from 11 ADDM Communities. CDC. Published January 1, 2016. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2023/p0323-autism.html
  2. Rossignol DA. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy might improve certain pathophysiological findings in autism. Medical Hypotheses. 2007;68(6):1208-1227. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2006.09.064
  3. Rossignol DA, Rossignol LW, James SJ, Melnyk S, Mumper E. The effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on oxidative stress, inflammation, and symptoms in children with autism: an open-label pilot study. BMC Pediatr. 2007;7(1):36. doi:10.1186/1471-2431-7-36
  4. Granpeesheh D, Tarbox J, Dixon DR, Wilke AE, Allen MS, Bradstreet JJ. Randomized trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2010;4(2):268-275. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2009.09.014

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