Saturday, June 19, 2010

Our HBOT Experience

Cam finished his 1st round of 40 dives yesterday. I say "1st round" because we will be doing this again. I'm not sure how I'm going to pay for it yet, but I will make it happen, and probably later this fall, finishing before the middle of December.

Here are some of the changes we've seen:

Cam has been playing with his toys. Now, in all fairness, he has been doing this for over a year now, but he really plays, with intent, now. I found him playing in Blythie's Barbie Townhouse this morning, making the little dog walk around the house. I've never seen this type of creative play in Cam. He's transitioning so much better. He's processing language much faster and he seems to understand the whole of the sentence you are telling him, whereas before I think he only got a word here and there. This would explain his lag in processing time before: think about it--if you only heard and understood one or two words of any sentence someone tells you (albeit, the important words) wouldn't it take you a second or two to figure out what the heck they wanted?

Kiki has seen some nice gains, too. He's talking a lot and asking questions all the time. And some of the questions are quite interesting, proving to me that he's really is listening and thinking about what's go on around him.

I find myself saying things to him more and more that I would say to to typically developing, 2 or 3 year old. For example, when he's been frustrated about something, I say "Kiki, slow down and use your words to tell me what you mean." And it works, which is pretty fabulous.

It's especially fabulous when you consider that Kiki is coming the end of Stage 2 in RDI, which corresponds with the development of a neurotypical two year old.

These past two months I've spent a lot of time trying to learn about HBOT and why it works: the biological mechanisms behind it. I came across this explanation on one of my listserves.

With hard chambers, the main reason for breaks is to let the capillary growth continue. It will continue for up to 90 days and then if you can do another 40, it will trigger the growth of more new capillaries.

The number one reason for doing HBOT to begin with is because of the lack of oxygen getting to the damaged areas. New capillaries provide a new avenue of delivery for the red blood cells which is the delivery mechanism for oxygen. In order to get that capillary development, a certain amount of oxygen saturation is needed. When the saturation goes away within 2 hours after a session, it begins to signal the brain that the oxygen is needed and the brain signals new growth. It requires repetitive signals every day to begin this growth.

With a soft chamber, this level of saturation does not occur. There is benefit but it slowly leaves when you discontinue the use of the soft chamber. The reason for the regression is there is not enough new capillary development to continue that oxygen delivery with red blood cells. There is no avenue of delivery.

Although most people are convinced I am totally against soft shells, they are wrong. The combination of soft and hard chamber use is the best therapy a brain injured child, whether autism, cp or for whatever reason, can ever recieve. I have always advocated to use both.

Unfortunately, the only training a DAN doctor recieves in hbot is from the soft chamber industry, mainly the IHA which was set up to promote soft chambers. Therefore, they base their advice on this training and info which is totally one-sided.

There was a DAN doctor in TN who bought a soft chamber for his own child with autism. They used it every day. The hospital he worked with had a hard chamber and they allowed him to use it for 17 treatments. The difference in results was large. He brought his son to us and we did 80 sessions and the improvements were major and permanent. That MD is now working with the Univ. of Alabama in studying hbot. He now advises the use of hard hbot. He uses his soft chamber for maintenance with his son.

It is the oxygen and not the pressure that makes the real difference and when you fine tune it with higher pressures the results improve dramatically. But the 100% oxygen is the first and foremost requirement. HBOT simply means delivering oxygen under pressure.

Robert Hartsoe www.miraclemountain.org

So, if you have happened upon my blog trying to find out more about HBOT, just like I did when we were beginning, hopefully this explanation will help you understand it a bit better. I do think it's a valuable tool with treating autism.

I'm not sure that it did all that I'd hoped (and what I've seen in other children), but I do see differences and I'm glad we did it.

We still have lots more to do and many more miles to go. But, as always, any real progress is always welcome.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This One Summer

Summer is almost here.

Kiki is so very excited about the coming Last Day of School, that he greets me every morning with a sing-songy "Mom, I only have (blank) many days left!" Of course, he still will have ESY (Extended School Year) but that's just not the same as school.

In my feeble attempt to prolong summer, I've had the kids make a Top 10 List of the things they each want to do this summer. I've (of course) done my own. It's really quite cool to see the things they have come up with. My hope is that they will be able to compile a little book of their List, complete with pictures and descriptions.

I only wish I'd had something so cool and so personal from my summers as a child. All I have are memories of AGA Summer Camp: swimming at Timberlane CC Pool, lots and lots of mosquito bite, playing at the park at the local public school down the street and hot, hot, hot muggy days with afternoon thunderstorms. Hmmmm, may have to brainstorm these memories for myself.

Anyways, I'm thinking about meeting the kids off the school bus tomorrow with a big balloon bouquet and sign. Maybe "Summer Starts Now!" or something silly and fun.

It's all about episodic memory, isn't it? Time to make some This Summer...

Friday, June 04, 2010

20 Dives and Counting, An Update

So, here we are. Half way into our 40 dives of HBOT for the boys.

Notice they are in the chamber together. This is awesome, as it means I only have to drive to the HBOT center once a day instead of two. It also means a substantial reduction in the cost, as we now only pay for one dive, instead of two. Apparently the center really didn't want to do this, as they felt there was a liability issue---I guess they thought the boys could start fighting and severely hurt themselves before we could decompress and get to them (the quickest we could get it would be about 30 seconds). But, my boys are fine together. And I think Kiki would be sad if he didn't dive with Cam for some reason.

So here we are, halfway in, and as I promised, I wanted to give an update:

I had a long chat with Cam's teacher, which was originally about this next year and Cam's educational placement. She was quite definite in her assessment of the past month and a half: whatever it is we're doing, keep doing it. Her words exactly were that "Cam is just here, much more present with us, instead of in his own little world." This is so cool because I feel the exact same way, only I was looking for it. Nice confirmation from another, independent source, as they had no idea we were doing this.

Now, I haven't had a similar conversation with Kiki's teacher, but I will. However, I see that Kiki is talking more, expressing more of his thoughts with his language, and that his language is more nuanced. He's paying attention to nonverbal cues more. He's just progressing.

One thing I will say is that the boys have been INCREDIBLY wired in the evenings when they come home from HBOT. And that's what being in 100% oxygen at 1.5 times air pressure will do to you. It's like putting your foot down on the gas pedal of your metabolic engine. Like most things in life, it doesn't just "settle back down nicely" because you want it to do so. But it is getting better.

So far, so good. I'm looking forward to getting my afternoons and evenings back in a few weeks, though.