Children who have been labeled as having Autism require a multi-faceted approach to restoring optimal function. For the majority of affected children they have an environmentally triggered brain injury (toxic/immune & metabolic encephalopathy) and/or neurodevelopmental delay. Azzolino Chiropractic Neurology & Integrative Wellness is one of the few clinics that offers a combination of a biomedical approach and functional neurologic rehabilitation for treating Spectrum Disorder. Our extensive diagnostic assessments help identify the most appropriate treatments for each individual patient, allowing us formulate the perfect combination to give your child’s body the necessary assistance.
Our evaluation begins where other practitioners stop.
Furthermore, despite underlying causes, your child has a neurodevelopmental delay that requires a functional neurological approach. We start with exploring the early childhood development, assessing Primitive and Postural reflexes, sensory processing, motor coordination, fine and gross motor skills, ocular and vestibular reflexes, along with balance and stability testing. Our evaluation not only identifies underlying developmental deficits, but guides our ability to design a rehabilitation program to correct those deficits.
Our approach includes addressing:
- neurological rehabilitation for neurodevelopmental delays
- assessing for infectious disease
- immune system dysfunction
- digestive issues
- dietary sensitivities and nutritional optimization;
- neurochemical and environmental sensitivities
- heavy metal and chemical detoxification
Despite underlying causes, your child has a neurodevelopmental delay that requires a functional neurological approach. We start with exploring the early childhood development, assessing Primitive and Postural reflexes, sensory processing, motor coordination, fine and gross motor skills, ocular and vestibular reflexes, along with balance and stability testing. We utilize many innovative technologies to objectively identify brain function and underlying developmental deficits that guide us in designing a rehabilitation program to correct those deficits. The key is having a program that specifically addresses your child’s deficits.
Immune System Dysregulation is a BIG part of Spectrum disorders
Immune dysregulation is also called immuno-excito-toxicity and it can certainly that can comprise brain development. It is imperative to evaluate various contributors to immune dysregulaton. Identifying the cause of this autoimmune response and providing natural treatments to effectively help to regulate the immune response can help to control the symptoms of autism. The process of immune dysregulation usually starts by having human bodies pre-disposed to immune problems as a result of exposure to the high level of toxic chemicals we have all been exposed to. Overlay, the bloated, ill-conceived assault on the immune system by inherently dangerous vaccine schedule that is now being used. No child is not harmed… it is just a question of how much harm will come to any particular child. The lucky ones just develop bad food and environmental allergies, but other go on to deal with chronic infections, a poor ability to eliminate toxins from their bodies, digestive dysfunction and worse.
The enigma of the spectrum includes an increasing incidence that cannot be explained by genetics alone, unless you include the Homologous Human DNA contamination in many of the vaccines.. Genetic studies suggest genome wide scans many be useful for analyzing predispositions in individual patients as many genes have been linked to this disease. BUT.. this is not a genetic illness anymore than getting run over by a bus is a genetic illness.
Evidence indicates that children on the spectrum suffer from an ongoing neuroinflammatory process in different regions of the brain involving microglial activation. When microglia remain activated for an extended period, the production of mediators is sustained longer than usual and this increase in mediators contributes to loss of synaptic connections and neuronal cell death. Microglial activation can then result in a loss of connections or underconnectivity. Underconnectivity is reported in many studies in “autism”. One way to control neuroinflammation is to reduce or inhibit microglial activation.
Healing the Gut is priority one
Chronic digestive disturbances may be diagnosed with an Organic Acid Test or Stool analysis both can identify abnormal bacteria, fungus, and parasites that cause digestive dysfunction. Certain by-products that affect the neurological system can also be measured and help to identify various abnormalities. Dietary changes, supplementation and correction of dysbiosis are used to correct these digestive problems. This has a positive impact on both immune and neurological function.
1. Dietary Changes and Nutritional Optimization
Diet can have a profound impact on affected children. It is important to identify areas in the child’s diet that may be causing problems and increasing symptoms. Once these are identified, nutritional advice is offered to adapt the diet to be healthy for that individual. Certain nutritional deficiencies are very common in affected children. Specific vitamins and minerals have been shown to be very effective in reducing the symptoms of autism. When given in therapeutic amounts, these nutrients can improve behaviour, language, and mood among many other things.
Heavy metals have many detrimental effects on the body, but in particular have profound effects on the nervous system. Analysis of levels of these metals is important to determine if this is impacting your child. Once testing has been done treatment is given to remove these metals from tissues in the body and promote healthy detoxification.
3. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
A leading therapy for the treatment of Developmentally Disabled children is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy works on the following areas :
- Immune system dysregulation;
- Neurological inflammation; and
- Increased need for oxygen to areas of the brain responsible for language and social skill.
HBOT is not the only intervention; although, it is the least understood. It is used in conjunction with personalized biomedical therapies creates the “best effort” environment in fully restoring the potential health and well being of an affected person. Children and their families notice significant improvement in symptoms and the ability to lead a healthy life.
How does HBOT benefit the spectrum patient?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) works as its name implies – hyper (more of) and baric (pressure) and in fact that is how it works. It is the increased pressure of the gas we breathe everyday that can actually signal the DNA in our cells to perform healing tasks that the body normally can’t do.
Ground zero for this activity is the mitochondria, which are the little organelles inside of our cells that convert oxygen and sugar into the gasoline the cells run on (ATP) – this is called cellular respiration. It doesn’t take much to knock mitochondria off-line and then that cell can’t perform the job it was assigned. So, be it oxygen deprivation, external toxic exposure, or a hyper-immune reaction to an infection or a vaccine the mitochondria will be damaged.
We know how Hyperbaric therapy works – it works by reviving the little mitochondria and actually causes mitochondrial biogenesis, so that if you need more mitochondria in your neurons more of them will form. It is interesting to note that the reason the ketogenic diet helps patients with certain types of neurological problems is that ketone bodies help support mitochondrial function. Hyperbaric therapy is the most effective way to do this. It is that simple – this is not rocket science, but it is non-invasive brain repair.
As long as supportive biomedical interventions are taking place at the same time, be that detoxification, the appropriate diet for that child (GF/SF/CF, the SC diet or the GAPS diet, etc.), the appropriate supplements are on board, (folinic acid, B12, ALA, glutathione, etc.), foods the child is allergic to are eliminated and any infectious issues are being dealt with (such as yeast, viral load, Lyme, Mycobacterium, etc.) then hyperbaric therapy can commence. Hyperbaric therapy is not a substitute for a comprehensive bio-medical intervention strategy, and again alone it is not a cure, but it can be an important addition to the overall treatment plan.
Hyperbaric therapy is perhaps the safest procedure in medicine at the pressures used to treat brain injuries and children on the spectrum.
1. What are Hyperbaric Chambers?
There are many types of hyperbaric chambers in all shapes and sizes, but they are not all equal. The term “hard-shell” chamber refers to chambers made of steel and acrylic that can achieve pressures equal to three atmospheres and beyond. There chambers that are small one person monoplace devices all the way up to submarine sized 30 person multiplace chambers. The hard-shell chambers can be compressed with 100% oxygen or room air, but if they are compressed with room air, as all multiplace chambers are, there are oxygen hoods or masks given to the patient(s) so they can breathe in the enriched oxygen.
The “soft-shell” or portable chambers come in all sizes as well, but the largest of the group are approximately seven feet long and 33 inch in diameter. They only inflate to 1.3 atmospheres (under current FDA regulations), which is about 12 feet of seawater pressure (the pressure you would feel if you were swimming 12 feet below the surface of the water). Soft-shell chambers can have oxygen pumped into the chamber by an FDA licensed oxygen concentrator, but even 1.3 atmospheres of compressed room air will increase the partial pressure of oxygen by almost 50%. Oxygen concentrators will increase the oxygen level but this varies based on if the patient wears or does not wear a mask.
2. Which pressure is best and is more oxygen better?
There is a therapeutic window that most brain injuries respond to and that is 1.3 to 2.0 atmospheres. There are always exceptions and special cases, but pressures around 1.5 atmospheres seems to be the sweet spot for the utilization of glucose by the brain and so this is a target pressure for many protocols that treat brain injuries.
More pressure and more oxygen are not better. The pressurized air (which contains more oxygen because of the increased pressure) or 100% pressurized oxygen act as signaling agents to as many as 8000 genes. The mitochondria have their own DNA and this is where the action takes place to bring back the energy levels of injured or poisoned brain cells. More genes are actually signaled at 1.5 atmospheres than at higher pressures.
3. How does one get treated?
Hyperbaric treatment facilities that are not connected to hospital operations almost always treat conditions that have yet to be approved by the FDA – so-called “off-label” conditions. These free-standing centers are few and often far between, and since the brain injury protocol requires daily treatments for months; both treatment cost and distance to the nearest clinic become critical matters.
Optimally, you will want your child to be treated at a clinic that has experience treating children with brain injuries and where there is a physician with experience in treating children on the spectrum. That is the best case scenario.
4. How many treatments are required?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is prescribed by a physician based on that patient’s need. Typically for Spectrum issues combined with other co-morbid medical conditions therapies are typically prescribed in 1 hour increments once full pressure is obtained. Treatment length varies by case. Typically treatments are between 20 – 80 separate appointments. Hyperbaric oxygen therapies are more efficacious to be performed in sequential days.
Doctors will work with patients to evaluate individual needs and come up with a treatment plan. Each treatment plan varies. This therapy could be prescribed in groups. For example, a doctor may prescribe three separate 20 treatment sessions as part of a treatment plan. Please check with your doctor for additional details.
5. But isn’t hyperbaric therapy controversial?
Indeed it is but the controversy is political not scientific. When Canadian (Quebec) parents petitioned their reluctant government to fund a study examining the use of hyperbaric oxygen to treat children with cerebral palsy, the government put in place a man who designed the study to confuse. He removed the control group and only looked at two treatment arms: 1) children receiving hyperbaric oxygen at 1.75 atmospheres; 2) children receiving hyperbaric air at 1.3 atmospheres.
The results of the study showed that Gross Motor Function improved 15 times greater with treatment than with previous therapies – both groups of children. Eighty percent of the children involved in this Canadian study (Lancet 2002), and there were 110 children, improved including improvement in cognition, speech and other outcome measures. So, what did the amoral representative of the Canadian government do who was sent in to obfuscate the results of the study? He called the 1.3 atmosphere group a placebo group (he did this in French only – in English he called it a sham treatment) and then he announced hyperbaric therapy didn’t work because the treatment group’s results were no different than the placebo group.
Since few physicians and scientists know anything about hyperbaric medicine, there was no one around to point out that 1.3 atmospheres is hardly a placebo when it increases the partial pressure of oxygen by almost 50%. But they knew that – this was all about making sure the government didn’t have to pay for this therapy for handicapped children and it has worked to this day. Children with CP can not receive hyperbaric therapy from most 3rd party payers in part because of the propaganda surrounding this ten year old study.
The truth is that 10 times more progress was made during the two months of hyperbaric therapy (while all other therapies were ceased) than during the three months of follow-up with OT/PT restarted.
In 2005, Dr. Stoller published an article in the journal PEDIATRICS showing that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could reverse the brain damage caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). That article was met with resounding silence. FAS is the most common from of non-hereditary mental retardation and is considered to be incurable and untreatable.
This is a functional brain scan called a SPECT scan. You are looking at the front of the brain. Before hyperbaric oxygen was administered there is little to no activity in the temporal lobes and lack of blood flow to the prefrontal cortex. After treatment the horns of the temporal lobes can be seen now and the deficits in the prefrontal cortex are filling in. (The scans were done by Paul Harch, MD, Director of the LSU Hyperbaric Medicine Fellowship and were submitted into the Congressional record.)
Studies about Hyperbaric oxygen and “autism”:
- Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Rossignol DA, Rossignol LW, Smith S, Schneider C, Logerquist S, Usman A, Neubrander J, Madren EM, Hintz G, Grushkin B, Mumper EA. BMC Pediatr. 2009 Mar 13;9:21. PMID: 19284641 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in Thai autistic children. Chungpaibulpatana J, Sumpatanarax T, Thadakul N, Chantharatreerat C, Konkaew M, Aroonlimsawas M. J Med Assoc Thai. 2008 Aug;91(8):1232-8. PMID: 18788696 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
- A review of recent reports on autism: 1000 studies published in 2007. Hughes JR. Epilepsy Behav. 2008 Oct;13(3):425-37. Epub 2008 Jul 31. Review. PMID: 18627794 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
- The effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on oxidative stress, inflammation, and symptoms in children with autism: an open-label pilot study. Rossignol DA, Rossignol LW, James SJ, Melnyk S, Mumper E. BMC Pediatr. 2007 Nov 16;7:36. PMID: 18005455 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy might improve certain pathophysiological findings in autism. Rossignol DA. Med Hypotheses. 2007;68(6):1208-27. Epub 2006 Dec 4. PMID: 17141962 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Physiologically, HBOT accomplishes the following:
- Increasing blood flow to areas of the brain that have been shown to lack blood flow in patients with autism. This increase in blood flow results in increased functioning in the areas of the brain responsible for language comprehension, auditory processing, sensory perception, and social interaction;
- Decreases inflammation in the neurological system and gut improving cognitive functioning and addressing the digestive disturbances commonly seen in patients with autism;
- Improves immune function;
- Increases antioxidant enzymes and production of antioxidants resulting in decreased oxidative stress;
- Mobilization of stem cells from the bone marrow which allows for the formation or new neurons and other brain cells; and
- Increases oxygen delivery to mitochondria and recent research suggests HBOT can increase the production of mitochondria. This increases energy available at the cellular level.
The observable results for the patient and his or her family are typically as follows:
- Increased social interaction
- Decreased lethargy
- Increased focus
- Improvements in language comprehension
- Decreased number of tantrums
- Increased motivation
- Improved communication skills