Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has not been clinically proven to cure or be effective in the treatment of cancer, autism, or diabetes. But do a quick search on the Internet, and you’ll see all kinds of claims for these and other diseases for which the device has not been cleared or approved by FDA.
Father & Son in Hyperbaric Chamber for Autism Treatment Kerry Rivera via Wikimedia Commons
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are medical devices and are regulated by the FDA. During hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a person breathes pure oxygen while in a sealed chamber, reports the Mayo Clinic. This therapy is approved for some medical conditions including decompression sickness, burns and bubbles of air in blood vessels (embolism). The FDA’s website lists the approved uses for HBOT.
Expert Infantry on Flickr
The FDA is concerned that consumers will use HBOT instead of proven therapies. “Patients may incorrectly believe that these devices have been proven safe and effective for uses not cleared by FDA, which may cause them to delay or forgo proven medical therapies,” says Nayan Patel, a biomedical engineer in FDA’s Anesthesiology Devices Branch. “In doing so, they may experience a lack of improvement and/or worsening of their existing condition(s).”
Hyperbaric chambers at a hospital KOMU News on Flickr
Patients using HBOT expose themselves to some potentially serious risks including paralysis. “If you’re considering using HBOT, it’s essential that you first discuss all possible options with your health care professional,” Patel says. “Whatever treatment you’re getting, you need to understand its benefits and risks. Your health care professional can help you determine which treatment is your best option.”
There is no cure for autism, but there are approved autism treatments according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two antipsychotic drugs are approved by the FDA for some children with autism who have severe behavioral problems. Other treatments include:
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
Speech and language therapy
Sensory integration therapy
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
More information on these treatments for autism is available on the CDC’s website.