This story will give an insight into the struggle and all the possible odds one has to face, especially in the developing country, where somtimes struggle assumes the form of determination.

with love to all


Story of a mother

“Hello Ma’am,” I was surprised to see a young gentleman in his late 20s greeting me. I had never seen the caller, but still I responded his greeting with a smile, but my eyes were on my son, who was making fuss over his food.
He introduced himself, “ I am Dr. Narayan, from school of Naval Medicine.” For me he also was one of the doctors from one of those polyclinics so I gave a nod without registering any other details in my mind.
I was preoccupied with my son, who was testing my patience, the more I was coaxing him to eat his food, the more he was irritating me. Not knowing what to do at that moment, I gave up, and started looking for my husband. I was wondering where he could be, how I will search for him in this crowd, at least he or my mother anybody around, so I can go and leave the table and wash my fingers.
It was one of our relatives’ wedding. Normally I don’t take my son out for the functions because of his fussy attitude towards food, and being “a slow learner” he had a problem communicating with people, but sometimes one has to compromise also.
“May I help you ma’am?” I heard Dr. Narayan asking me, sensing my plight. More then willing I accepted his help and requested him to look after my son for a few minutes till I leave the table and wash my fingers.
I was surprised to see Ani, my son, engrossed with Dr. Narayan and making some small talk, a boy, who would not like to talk to any unknown person, is laughing at some joke!
“Ma’am, at what age did your son have the surgery?” - a question that struck me hard, but seeing that sympathetic look in his eyes, and genuine concern in his voice as if mesmerized, my stern, stiff attitude melted and words started flowing.
“ At the age of 7 months, he underwent retinoblastoma surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Due to that his physical as well as mental growth suffered, we put him on growth hormone treatment for three years, and being a slow learner he is going in a special school, there they have to learn special syllabus.”
“Why don’t you give him HBOT treatment?” He said. “A what treatment?” I asked. I was alarmed, cautiously I told the gentleman, ‘you see, I have to talk to my husband and my child’s doctor also; if they permit, then I can think of the treatment you have suggested.’
Hearing this he gave me his phone number and address and said I can call him any time to get further information about the treatment, and if I have a computer then I can surf the net and get the details. He warned me ‘your doctors may not know about it’. At this comment I didn’t know how to react, so I thanked him and bid him good-bye.
On the way back I told my husband. He said ask Ani’s doctor, if he knows and if he feels it is useful for him, then give him the treatment. When I contacted Ani’s pediatric, his first question was “what is it?” and “hey think twice before you get into it”. I was wondering whom to ask.
I thought might as well ask Dr. Narayan. Tell him to explain what it is and how one gives this treatment. I called on him and a typical ‘man-in-uniform’ response came. With polite conversation came a suggestion, why not to go to their center and see by my self, not only that ‘have a word with our seniors, and surely all your doubts will be cleared; after that, if you feel confident, your son can be treated.’
Armed with all the medical papers and possible questions, I went to the HBOT center with my neighbor’s son, an intern in a government hospital. Thus started my introduction to one more therapy.
They took me to the ‘chamber’, where a person ‘breathes’ 100% pure oxygen! ! !
You must be wondering - we all breathe Oxygen, but there is a difference in our breathing and this breathing. Like we use only 2 to 3 % of our brain, our lungs only breathe 21% oxygen in the air. Hence oxygen getting into our body is not 100%.
It was a cylindrical chamber. Inside 6 people can sit and breathe 100% pure oxygen with masks, or - if child is very small – through a hood. Once patients are made comfortable inside, with trained attendant keeping a watchful eye on all the patients, the chamber is sealed.
Gradually, the air pressure is increased. Patients start breathing pure oxygen at the one and half or two atmospheric level. Which means, our body comes under the pressure which is one and half time or twice more then our normal atmosphere level. Oxygen breathed at this level turns into medicine/drug and helps wounds to heal. After about an hour or one and half hours, the patient comes out of the chamber, all sweating, thirsty and little tired, but with lots of life giving oxygen!
I was wondering how this will help my son, and worried too. With great difficulty we have brought him to this level where he manages his own affairs, plays tabla, does his homework, but with problems in simple mathematical calculations, and being a ‘fussy eater’, he loves to drink his food rather than chew it.
Doctors around assured me: ‘Ma’am, assume your child is at a 50% level, don’t worry he will not go down to 40 or 35%; but we can assure you he will surely go to 65 to 70 % level of function, but don’t expect improvement to 100% normalcy.’
I was more than willing to take a chance, if my son could go to 70% level and start eating solids, start doing ‘simple mathematics, start understanding abstract concepts – like what is today, what is tomorrow.’
Thus began a new treatment for my son and a new quest for me to find out more about the treatment: Who can use it, how does it work, where is it available, etc.
Let me tell you one thing - I am not a doctor, I am a mother of a ‘special child’ who needs attention all the time, who has to be taught to do certain things, and this article is just to inform people at large and parents of ‘special need children’ in particular: Please don’t feel shy in accepting that you have a special child. Once you accept this, then it becomes easy for you to access the doctors to help your child. Think along this line too: “After you are gone, how will your child manage?” A little improvement goes long way for these children.
With this treatment, a child who could not hold a cup may be able to hold a pen; a once autistic child may become more sociable and recognize people. A word of caution too: this is not the only possible treatment, but given in combination with other therapies, HBOT enhances the effect of other medicine.
As Dr. Arun Mukherjee of “Udan” says:
“HBOT is like watering the parched earth of the brain. Watering alone does not give you a good crop to harvest.
You also need:
1.Good seed (intensive standard therapy with OT/PT/Special Education/Speech Therapy)
2.Good fertilizer to enhance cellular activity (Ayurvedic neuro-restorative drugs that enhance metabolism of the regenerating / recovering brain cells)
3.Good sunshine (Acupuncture to specific points that would stimulate the recovering brain areas to faster recovery)
4.Timely pruning (Botox nerve Block where intractable muscle spasm shows risk of causing permanent joint deformity)
Now let us see what the mechanism is which helps to heal the wounded tissue and briefly review the history of this therapy, and where in India this treatment is available.

“HYPERBARIC OXYGEN TREATMENT”: “Hyper” means “greater” and “Baric” means “pressure”, which means, HBO is a mode of therapy in which the patient breathes 100% pure oxygen at pressure greater than normal atmospheric (sea level) pressure.

It has long been known that healing cannot take place without appropriate oxygen levels in the tissues, where most illnesses and injuries occur and often linger. In many cases, such as in circulatory problems and strokes, adequate oxygen cannot reach the damaged area, and the body’s natural healing process does not function properly. HBOT can provide this extra oxygen naturally with virtually no side effects.
Hyperbaric works by dissolving much higher levels of oxygen than normal breathing does into body fluids, especially blood plasma. Usually, 95% of the body’s oxygen needs are transported by red blood cells, but this can be greatly reduced by injury or disease. When patient is placed in a chamber in which pure oxygen is delivered at one and half time greater than normal earth’s surface pressure, the amount of oxygen dissolved in other body fluids that reaches the brain is about six times that of normal respiration.
Several beneficial mechanisms are associated with intermittent exposure to the HBO treatment. In combination with other medical and surgical procedures this treatment enhances the healing process.
The method and its technology was originally developed by the military for diving operations, decompression sickness and air embolism.
First documented use of Hyperbaric Therapy actually precedes the discovery of Oxygen. Oxygen was discovered in 1775 by Joseph Prestly, whereas British physician Henshaw used compressed air for medical purposes in 1662. The chamber was called “ Domicilium”, with pressure provided by a pair of large bellows.
There was no further development in the field of hyperbaric oxygen for another two centuries.
In 1837 Pravaz made the largest chamber. The first hyperbaric chamber in North America came in 1860 at Oshava, Canada. Cunningham built a chamber in Kansas city in 1920 to treat neurological diseases, but due to mechanical failure all his patients died.A mobile chamber was developed by Fontane in 1877 for surgery.
If the history of the treatment dates back to 1662, then after these many centuries why it is not used so extensively and why are very few doctors getting involved in setting up of the chambers? These are natural questions, which will come to anybody’s mind after reading the usage of it. Before we find out the answer to the questions let us see which all indications can be treated with the HBOT.
A I R O R G A S E M B O L I S M: This occurs when air bubbles enter arteries, veins and/or capillaries. This results in reduced blood flow and poor oxygen delivery to the areas supplied by the affected circulation. If not fatal, this air embolism can result in severe, long-standing and irreversible physical and emotional disabilities. Paralytic limbs, impaired vision, brain, heart, lung and other organ damage, leading to severe disabilities, requiring maximum medical care.
Hyperbaric oxygen has been shown to reduce the size of bubbles and drives the remaining gas into physical solution, while the high oxygen pressure washes out inert gas from the bubble. When bubbles are resolved, blood flow resumes. Poorly oxygenated tissues then receive higher levels of oxygen delivery. Once the blood flow resumes with more oxygen, swollen tissues will start healing and local swelling also will subside.
Thus HBOT treatment is the primary treatment for Air embolism. Apart from this other indications are: Carbon Monoxide poisoning, Gas Gangrene, Crush Injury, Decompression Sickness, Arterial Gas Embolism, Enhancement of Healing in Selected Problem Wounds -(this includes diabetic feet / compromised amputation sites / non healing traumatic wounds and vascular insufficiency ulcer, all these indications share the common problem of tissue hypoxia - that is low tissue oxygen level - usually related to impaired circulation), Exceptional Blood Loss (anemia), Intracranial Abscess, Soft Tissue Infections, Refractory Osteomyelitis, Skin Grafts, Thermal Burns, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Migraine, Cerebral Edema, Coma, etc.
Oxygen, when breathed under increased atmospheric pressure, is a potent drug. But this can produce noticeable toxic effects if administered indiscriminately, and it may be a problem in the presence of certain indications, such as: Untreated Tension Pneumothorax, Cold and Cough, Emphysema, A symptomatic Pulmonary Lesions, Thoracic or Ear Surgery, Uncontrolled High Fever, Claustrophobia, etc.
After seeing the indications where HBOT can be used and contra indications where HBOT should not be used, let us examine why doctors rarely recommend the therapy, and why usually doctors themselves are not aware of this treatment, how it works and how it may help their patients.
First of all, doctors are rarely taught about hyperbaric oxygen therapy in medical colleges and therefore most don’t know about it. Sometimes this therapy does get mentioned in the syllabus, but it stops at that level. Since it is expensive to provide hyperbaric chamber facilities, medico students don’t have access to the treatment know how. So it is obvious - what a physician doesn’t know he will not prescribe, and thus the most useful treatment remains unnoticed, unused.
How many chambers are being used around the world? Armed forces, especially the Navy, is using HBOT chambers - both monoplace, that is single person, and multi-place, where 4 to 6 or more patients can be treated at one time. Approximate figures show China and Russia have the most HBOT chambers – around 3000 each, which includes navy as well as civilian population chambers. South Korea has 4.9 chambers per one million population, whereas Russia has only 3.6. In the United States there are around 500 chambers and every year this number is increasing by about 30 chambers, both monoplace or multiplace. Australia and Germany have only multiplace chambers, whereas Japan prefers monoplace units. In USA, about 10,000 patients per day are treated with HBOT, and insurance coverage is provided for 13 indications. However, China and Russia are allowing insurance coverage for 40 to 70 indications.
Now - where does India stand with this therapy? Well, India has total of 16 chambers, out of which 9 chambers are with Indian Navy. Mumbai has three operational chambers - one with Kasturba Hospital, which is monoplace, another with Mumbai Port Trust Hospital that too is monoplace and one multiplace with INHS Aswini Hospital of Indian Navy.Apart from this New Delhi has one in Apollo Hospital and one in Banglore City. Considering the population of India, this figure is highly inadequate.
You must be wondering how my child has benefited and progressed, and how we managed to cope with this treatment.
After 30 sessions - one hour each for 30 days - we have noticed changes in Ani. He has started eating solids, he has become more expressive in his feelings - likes dislikes are clearly conveyed. Simple mathematical calculations, which were very difficult for him, are coming along easier, but he is yet to get hold of the abstract concepts like ‘today and tomorrow’, which is a bit complex for him. But I am confident after more rounds of the treatment he will be able to understand that too.
Well, for the parents of normal children these things may not make any sense. However, those who understand the traumatic situation of dealing with ‘special needs children’ will realize: the gift of a small progress in your child is nothing short of a miracle. For a Cerebral Palsy or otherwise brain-injured child, if this child can manage to hold a glass of water by himself, this is a great achievement for the child and a relief for the parents. When an autistic child, normally a loner, improves and becomes little more socially active, then the parents will be more relaxed.
Dr. Paul Harch, one of the well known authorities on HBOT has treated a number of children with various ailments, and states, ‘the results of the treatment is so encouraging that it is going to change the entire landscape of traumatic brain injury treatment, HBOT has change my career and life.’
Let me tell you we are not so fortunate that every city has these chambers and we can treat our children there. If in the advanced countries, parents of these children they have come forward to establish these facilities, then why not in India?
It was the courtesy extended by the School of Naval Medicine to treat the patients from outside armed forces, but they have their own charter to follow, where priorities are clearly defined. Surely, with their guidance and support, parents groups can establish such centers in the various cities of India.
To get more information please use any search engine (like Yahoo or Google) on the net and type in the word “hbot” or “hyperbaric” and you will be surprised to see the data available. Make sure you find a reputable website, because you may find some site which talks about ‘how to stop the aging process’. Look for sites that talk about HBOT for Cerebral Palsy and Brain Injury, Autism,Coma and Stroke.
If even one parent of a ‘special needs child’ accepts the reality and becomes actively involved in this treatment for their child, I will feel that my job is done. My E-mail Id is (email removed by mod).
Thank you.
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It must have been really difficult for you to take such a decision but I am glad that you managed to find some help. I think you are doing a great job trying to involve other people with similar problems. Your strength is admirable.
Agreed, this is a great resource for visitors to find on the net. There are many people searching for articles like this..

Thanks for your time Sur, you've probably helped quite a few people over the coming years!
Try out our live chat room.
to Dr. Narayan, have you ever treated a mitochandria disease with HBOT? My son has Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and has treated with HBOT still with no success of his vision Email Removed

I am sorry for the delay, i was trying to get in touch with the doctors here, but it seems they have not done the treatment for the condition mentioned.
What i suggest, try and do posting in 'yahoo groups : NeuroHBOT", you may get some information. this group is very active and answer the queries posted.

with love

Hi Sur,
I have a son who has CP and is 5years old. Read about the HBOT . would u be able to provide me the name of hospital/institutions in Bangalore providing HBOT.

hope to hear from u at the earliest

Thanks in advance

(email removed by mod)
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visit I am sure they will guide you
Dear Sir / Madam,
Could you please provide the location / hospital name where this HBOT treatment is getting done in Bangalore.

You can provide the details on my mail id . Many thanks.
please visit
they will b able to guide you
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