Richmond Hyperbaric Health Center

Richmond Hyperbaric Health Center


Research on Epilepsy and Austim


The logic for using hyperbaric oxygen treatment for developmental disorders relates to the auto-immune and/or viral theory of these conditions. Hyperbaric oxygen has been studied for auto-immune disorders and found to be helpful. Encephalitis, in this theory, is thought to be part of developmental disorders. The encephalitis can be initiated by viral infection, by exposure to vaccines, and/or by other auto-immune processes (the result of exposure to abnormal opioid-like substances from the opioid excess hypothesis, for example).

Treatment Study
Patients with viral encephalitis from ages 1 yr. to 11 yrs. were treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The treated group consisted of 47 patients, 28 male and 19 female. The control group consisted of 45 patients, 24 male and 21 female. Viral encaphalitis presents a model for the inflammation that may be part of autism. Studies such as this provide a basis for the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for autism. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy was provided at 1.8 atm abs for 80 minutes daily for 10 days in a steel hyperbaric chamber. The control group received supportive therapy with appropriate drugs.

Table 1. Comparison of the Curative Effect of the High Pressure Oxygen Treatment Group and the Control Group

Treatment Study



# (%)

# (%)

# (%)

Total Effective



18 (38.3)

25 (55.3)

3 (6.4)




8 (17.8)

20 (44.5)

17 (37.8)


P Value






Clearly, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is effective for the treatment of encephalitis in childhood.Hyperbaric oxygen has an important role in the treatment of brain injury, and perhaps also developmental disorders.

Since we know of no data on the use of hyperbaric oxygen for developmental disorders, and, since patients are doing these therapies, we will endeavor to review what is known, so that parents can at least make informed choices. In Pennsylvania, the range of cost for hyperbaric treatments is from a low of $110 per treatment in Columbia, Pennsylvania, in the center of the state, to a high of $850 per treatment at St. Francis Hospital, in Pittsburgh. This range apparently exists around the country, with the most common charges being in the $225 to $280 range.

Encephalic Lesions
Hyperbaric-Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been used to treat encephalic lesions for over a decade.

Encephalitis can compromise blood supply to vital brain tissue, as can stroke, arterial narrowing, and arteritis (inflammation of the arteries). When blood supply of an area is compromised, a shadow like spread (called a penumbral zone) of damage occurs around the compromised area. HBOT can reduce damage to the areas of the brain that have reduced oxygen flow (ischemia) through improved bio-availability of oxygen in these ischemic areas, and indirectly through regulatory action of cerebral flow that improves perfusion in "critical" areas.

HBOT improves oxygen diffusibility throughout the brain, lowering lactates and raising ATP in affected areas; improving glucose metabolism by lowering production of substances, like aspartate and glutamate, which are responsible for over-response of the receptors; improving metabolic processes and perfusional flow distribution, bringing the generation of free radicals in the intracranial area under greater control.

The Importance of Glial Cells
HBOT brings dissolved oxygen to the glial level that is important in treating brain damage. HBOT helps redistribute blood to the non-ischemic areas around the lesions, preventing these areas from being harmed. These areas are generally affected by the response of the brain to injury which is a vasoconstriction, making them more susceptible to ischemic damage also, thereby continuing to spread the damage beyond its original area. HBOT prevents this "stealing" of blood, reducing intracranial pressure and raising tissue oxygen flow.

Glial cells are important and preventing their damage is necessary. This press release from Stanford University illustrates this concept further:

Lowly Glia Strengthen Brain Connections
STANFORD -- Once dismissed as mere padding, cells known as glia may be essential for the correct wiring of the brain. This is the conclusion of a study reported in the Sept. 12 issue of Science by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Postdoctoral fellow Frank Pfrieger and Dr. Barbara Barres, associate professor of neurobiology, used pure populations of nerve cells and glia to show that, by themselves, the nerve cells connected together poorly, but the combination of the two cell types resulted in strong connections between nerve cells.

In the brain, such connections allow nerve cells to pass along messages about our every sensation, thought and movement.
Glia make up approximately 90 percent of the cells in the human brain, and yet researchers have assigned mainly passive functions to them. Some glia wrap around nerve cells and insulate them with a protein called myelin. Glia at synapses act both as a physical barrier that prevents crossed wires and as a disposal unit that mops up extra messenger molecules released by nerve cells.

The nerve cells chosen for the Stanford study -- retinal ganglion cells -- lead from the eyes deep into the brain. Barres is using them as representatives of a large class of nerve cells in the brain: those that use a chemical messenger called glutamate to send a positive, or excitatory, signal.

It is also possible, she said, that glia control the strength of synapses in the fully developed brain, beefing up some circuits and turning down others.

There are five types of glial cells:
*Oligodendroglia, which provide the insulation (myelin) to neurons in the central nervous system.
*Schwann Cells, which provide the insulation (myelin) to neurons in the peripheral nervous system.
*Astrocyte (Astroglia), star-shaped cells that provide physical and nutritional support for neurons:

  1.   to clean up brain "debris";
  2.   to transport nutrients to neurons;
  3.   to hold neurons in place;
  4.   to digest parts of dead neurons;
  5.   to regulate content of extracellular space

*Microglia, which like astrocytes, digest parts of dead neurons.
*Satellite Cells, which provide physical support to neurons in the peripheral nervous system

Treatment of Children's Epilepsy by Hyperbaric Oxygenation:

Treatment of Children's Epilepsy by Hyperbaric Oxygenation: Analysis of 100 Cases. Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Centre, Zhou Gulan, EEG Lab, Zhujiang. Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress on Hyperbaric Medicine; President: Wen-ren Li, M.D., Fuzhou, People's Republic of China; Secretariat: Frederick S. Cramer, M.D., San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Gender and age:

The whole group included 100 patients (72 males, 28 females), ages 4 days to 14 years. 84% of them were between 1 month and 9 years old.

Causes of disease:
23 patients cause unknown (primary epilepsy), others had the following causes: cerebral lesion due to birth injury in 55 patients; encephalitis in 14 patients; high fever in 2 pediatric patients; anoxic cerebropathy in 4 children; brain tumor in 1 child; cerebrovascular malformation in 1.

Neuropsychiatric manifestation:
Intelligence was impaired in 68 patients: 45 children had mental symptom and personality change; local neurosystemic signs were detected in 47 patients. Patterns of Seizures: Grand mal 32 - Psychomotor seizures 12 - Petit mal 10 - Focal seizures 44 - Autonomic symptoms 2. EEG examination: All patients in this group had an EEG test. lt was found that 92 patients had abnormal EEGs; 66 patients had focal sparkle or sharp wave; 10 patients had paroxysmal sparkle-slow wave and sharp-slow wave; 6 patients had paroxysmal cerebral dysrhythmias; 10 patients had confusing abnormal EEGs; 3 patients had normal EEG&s; 5 other patients had boundary EEGs.

CT and MRI scanning:
Seventy-six patients were proved abnormal, including ventricular enlargement due to atelencephalia, focal encephalatrophy, tumours and local low density pathy, skull fracture. The other 24 patients were normal. Seizure frequency: 21 patients seizured every week; 18 patients did every month; 23 patients did every two months, the other 38 patients seizured more than twice a year.

Anticonvulsant medication:
39 patients were treated systematically; 20 patients could be controlled by little diazepam and r-amino butyric acid; 41 patients received no anticonvulsant because of their parents' objection, since they thought the children were too young; some individuals were controlled by luminal intramuscular injection on convulsion.

Hyperbaric oxygenation treatment:
The private hyperbaric oxygen chamber was manufactured by Ninpo Hyperbaric-Oxygen Chamber Factory. ln the chamber, the pure oxygen pressure is 1.7-2.0 atmospheres. The patients were treated for 80 minutes every day. A course was 15-30 days. Some patients had therefore been treated 35-45 times.

The treatment was found effective in 82 patients (82%), significantly effective ln 68 patients (68%). It showed that the seizures greatly diminished, and the EEG was improved. Forty-three patients had stopped anticonvulsant medication, while in other patients the amount of antiepileptic was decreased.

After hyperbaric oxygenation treatment, 82 patients' intelligence, personality, and mentalities were improved; 51 children studied very well; 10 primary and 4 secondary epilepsy children had no change after being treated 30 times.

Electroencephalogram (EEG): After hyperbaric oxygenation treatment, 45 patients had normal EEGs; 28 patients had focal abnormal EEGs; 3 patients had paroxysmal sharp-slow wave and another 20 patients' EEGs were slightly abnormal; 4 patients had boundary EEGs.

Follow-up: Seventy-six patients had been observed for more than 3 years. Forty children had been completely free of anticonvulsants. Three children had 1 or 2 slight attacks every year. Twenty-five patients were administered a little anticonvulsants and their seizures diminished a lot. The attacks did not change in 11 children with systemic therapy.


Mechanism of treatment of children's epilepsy with HBO2:
Hyperbaric oxygenation could improve the cerebral circulation, provide the brain with more oxygen, and reduce edema. Hyperbaric oxygen could also promote the energy metabolism of cerebral cells and improve the recovery of epileptic foci.

Reduction of handicapped children due to epilepsy:
Epilepsy often impairs the children's intelligence and personality; hyperbaric oxygenation could not only control the attacks of epilepsy but also prevent the occurrence of intelligence impairment and abnormal personality, so as to diminish the ratio of handicapped children due to illness.

For those interested in receiving HBOT that may have difficulty with financing the treatments, we have people that can give advice on fund-raising. The previous case studies are only a glimpse of the hundreds of people which have received HBOT at the Richmond Hyperbaric Center for a variety of conditions with favorable outcomes. Please contact us for more information on a particular condition which may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

The Richmond Hyperbaric Health Center has engaged in scientific research projects including a pilot study on the treatment of RSD/CRPS. We would like to pursue future research studies as well and are open to any inquiries about the use of  HBOT  for researching various conditions.



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