The brain is magnificent in its complexity. We barely understand what it does, let alone how it does it, so it is difficult to treat injuries, diseases, and conditions that revolve around that great mass of electro-chemical action in our heads. It is not just hard from a medical standpoint; the emotional toll can be tremendous, especially when the patient is a young person with Cerebral Palsy.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a non-contagious disorder caused by damage to a developing brain. The damage is often sustained during or after birth, or by serious accidents such as traffic collisions. In any case it tends to cause major problems with muscle function. Muscles are too tight; they do not have good range of movement, and cannot be used to move in a coordinated, purposeful manner.
The consequences of this one thing are extensive. For example, the skeletal system cannot develop properly without fully functional muscles putting tension on them. Speaking is difficult when one is physically unable to master respiratory control or facial muscles. We take smiling and frowning for granted, but each of those requires an intricate combination of muscles that someone with CP may or may not be able to use. Then there is the pain from tight, shortened muscles and the awkward positions that the patient’s body sits in by consequence.
There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, so a range of treatments and specialists are used to ensure the best possible quality of life for the patient. Massage, speech, and physical therapies, orthotic devices, surgery, and even botulinum toxin can be involved. One often overlooked treatment with huge potential is the addition of a naturopathic doctor that is trained in hyperbaric oxygen therapy to a child’s health care team.
HBOT administers pure oxygen at a pressure higher than we normally experience just standing on the earth’s surface. This causes high levels of oxygen to saturate the entire body, dissolving in plasma — the liquid portion of the blood — and getting to places that normally receive a minimal amount. It also triggers the body to mobilize all kinds of immune, messenger, and repair cells, which, among other things, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress on the body.
In the case of CP, studies involving both animals and humans show that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy helps restore proper blood flow to all parts of the brain, and to aid in healing and regenerating damaged or unhealthy tissue. In addition, HBOT decreases brain swelling, helps maintain the blood-brain barrier, and restores conduction of nerve impulses between cells. This is especially the case when HBOT is used as soon as possible after brain injury occurs.
But what does all that add up to? What real life, day to day results does it yield? First of all, it usually takes 40-80 treatments to get full results, so results are more or less a spectrum as treatment progresses, and depend of course on how severe the condition is. The early treatments yield improvement to spasticity — that is, the unusual “tightness” due to Cerebral Palsy — while in the long run HBOT can provide increased awareness, better neck tone, and significant improvements in functionality such as motor skills, language, and ability to think and process information, emotions, et cetera.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, when used along with other successful naturopathic and standard treatments, can have a significant positive impact on the lives of people with Cerebral Palsy and their loved ones. Contact us to book a consultation with our naturopathic doctors and find out how HBOT could benefit you.
It’s important to remember that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a medical treatment and may not be appropriate for everyone. All potential HBOT patients are carefully screened to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness.