Hyperbaric therapy (also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT) is the medical use of oxygen at a pressure which is higher than normal atmospheric pressure.
The oxygen is administered to the individual in a pressurised chamber in order to increase oxygen absorption in bodily tissue.
Hyperbaric therapy is normally used for the treatment of conditions such as embolisms, decompression sickness or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Some people think that hyperbaric therapy can also be used to reduce some of the core symptoms of autism by addressing underlying physiological problems which they believe cause those symptoms.
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) made the following recommendations:
'Do not use hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the management of core symptoms of autism in adults.' (NICE, 2012)
Some individuals on the autism spectrum may have one or more physiological problems according to a limited amount of research evidence of sufficiently high quality. However, how many individuals on the autism spectrum have these physiological problems is unclear.
It is also unclear if these problems cause or worsen the features of autism and related issues, if they arise because of the autism, or if they are completely unrelated to the autism.
There are three high quality randomised controlled trials of hyperbaric therapy. Two of these trials show no benefit and one shows some benefit to participants on the autism spectrum.
There is currently sufficient research evidence to suggest that hyperbaric therapy is ineffective as an intervention for individuals on the autism spectrum. There is no need for further research.
Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions