Physiological abnormalities have consistently been observed in a number of individuals within the autism spectrum, including cerebral hypoperfusion, inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction secondary to oxidative damage.
Cerebral hypoperfusion (decreased blood flow to the brain) was shown to be the promoter for certain symptoms of autism such as repetitive behaviors, inflexible routine, underdeveloped language skills and difficulty expressing and recognizing emotions as well as facial cues and gestures. Theories on hyperbaric therapy suggest that increasing oxygen saturation to areas of low oxygen in the brain as a result of chemical, toxic, inflammatory, or physical trauma, are able to reinvigorate and return neurons back to normal functioning. In one experiment conducted with 108 children, 50 sessions run for an hour each were performed with results showing at least 60% improvement of perfusion in all parts of the brain.
Autism studies have discovered inflammation as a characteristic finding in those on the autism spectrum. Inflammation was commonly found present in the brain as well as the gastrointestinal system. This observation has been corroborated by hundreds of similar studies performed. In all these studies, markers for inflammation were measured, followed by hyperbaric therapy, with a marked reduction in inflammatory markers, as well as overall inflammation. Improvements of behavior were also observed to be directly correlated with the reduction of inflammation.
Mitochondria are organelles within the cell whose primary role is to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy currency of the body. If the mitochondria are dysfunctional then it will produce low levels of ATP which means low amounts of energy available for the body to accomplish its normal functions. This low energy, along with the harmful byproducts produced by the dysfunctional mitochondria, is suspected to give rise to Autism and autism-like symptoms. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been found in autism patients with evidence to support this claim. Mitochondrial damage has been proposed to be secondary to oxidative stress, a combination of too many free radicals and not enough resources to quench them. Fortunately, this same research found that subjects who were treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, whether they had mitochondrial dysfunction or not, increased ATP production, with their dysfunctional mitochondria being destroyed and healthy new mitochondria being generated. To review all the benefits and research of HBOT on Autism click here.