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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Description: An intervention in which oxygen is delivered in a pressurized chamber, with the goal of increasing oxygen absorption in bodily tissue.

Research Summary: To date there are no studies with strong experimental designs evaluating whether or not Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy intervention is effective.One study suggested that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may produce positive behavior changes in children with autism spectrum disorder (Rossignol et al., 2009), but another study, which was small but well-designed, found no benefit (Granpeesheh et al., 2009). There have been no studies with strong experimental designs on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The equipment poses a fire risk and has caused serious injury, and the intervention may have significant side effects such as damaging the middle or inner ear and raising blood sugar levels (Liptak, 2005).

Recommendations: Researchers may wish to conduct studies with strong scientific designs to evaluate Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Professionals should present this intervention as under-researched as a treatment for autism spectrum disorders, describe the potential risks, and encourage families who are considering this intervention to evaluate its effects and side-effects carefully.

Selected References:

Systematic reviews of scientific studies:

Ghanizadeh, A. (2012). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for treatment of autism: A systematic review of randomized trials. Medical Gas Research, 2, 13.

Selected scientific studies:

Granpeesheh, D., Tarbox, J., Dixon, D. R., Wilke, A. E., Allen, M. S., & Bradstreet, J. J. (in press). Randomized trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2009.09.014

Rossignol, D.A., Rossignol, L.W., Smith, S., Schneider, C., Logerquist, S., Usman. A. et al. (2009). Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial, BMC Pediatrics, 9, 21, doi 10.1186/1471-2431-9-21