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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy shows promise for concussions and autistic patients

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Therapy is nothing new but doctors are finding new applications for it. Hyperbaric dives as they are sometimes called are showing promise for helping to heal concussions.

Former NFL player Ryan Neufeld got his bell rung several times while playing special teams for the Cowboys, Jaguars and Bills. He thinks he had several concussions as a player. “Several times a day I would hit someone and I would be dizzy for several seconds and disoriented,” Neufeld said. Then there were the headaches. “Probably a couple times a week, headaches, short-term memory issues and some irritability,” Neufeld said.

So Neufeld decided to give hyperbaric oxygen therapy a shot along with his young son who was diagnosed with Autism. Doctors say the increased oxygen flow to the brain will help both of them. “We are applying oxygen but we’re placing your body under increased barometric pressure,” said Doctor Stacie Macari who runs the Carmel Clinic. “Oxygen is actually directly absorbed into the blood stream.” Doctors said the pressure in the chamber is like being under 12 feet of water and it forces pure oxygen into the body 15 times faster than breathing and you are fully clothed.

Dr. Macari said athletes see faster healing for brain and ligament trauma. The results for children with Autism are also very encouraging. “We have quite a few scans with children with Autism that show we have improved brain function after applying hyperbaric oxygen therapy,” Dr. Macari said. “We're not quite clear why we had the reduced brain function in the first place but it’s very clear we've improved brain function with the application of the therapy.” Treatments typically last about an hour. Children will watch a DVD in the space age looking chamber while adults will read a book or just relax. Then Dr. Macari says the oxygen and the pressure combined helps the body regrow blood vessels.

Cleveland Brown DQuell Jackson was so excited about hyperbaric treatments helping his shoulder injury he made a YouTube video about. As for Ryan and his son, they’ll have a better idea of whether or not it’s working for them in about a month.

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