HBOT chambers that are used to improve the symptoms of infantile autism come in two flavors –
The soft chamber is made of plastic, and the hard chamber is made of glass and steel.
The advantages of the soft chamber – also known as “mild HBOT” are:
Portable – can be kept in a home more easily
Less cost if long term use – can be purchased for home use
More flexible schedules – since it can be used in the home
The disadvantages (soft chamber):
Achieves lower pressures – 1.3 ATM (atmospheres or ~11 feet below sea level)
Oxygen nearly the same as room air (we breathe 21% oxygen, additional oxygen is usually supplied to get ~ 24%)
Appears more uncomfortable – only a small “lookout hole” and will have an odor (of plastic) for a quite a while
The advantages of the hard unit:
This was the original type of chamber used for the purpose of helping autistic patients
Can attain much higher pressures – even higher than 1.75 ATM (~24 feet below sea level)
Can attain higher oxygen levels (100%)
Doesn’t have odor or residual phthalates
?More likely to get covered by insurance
The disadvantages of the hard unit:
Really impractical for home use
Patient needs to go to HBOT center
Continued treatments will increase costs
So, hard vs. soft?: If a parent wishes to leave no stone unturned in their journey to recover their child, they may choose to try hyperbaric treatments. All things being equal (and they rarely are), I would go with the hard chamber first.
If you choose the soft chamber, and it doesn’t help, you will STILL want to try the hard chamber. If, on the other hand, you try the hard chamber first and it DOESN’T work, you can pretty much figure that the soft one won’t add anything to your search. If the hard chamber DOES work, well, you could still give a trial of the soft chamber to see if you get similar results. Or, like many patients, you could continue the hard chamber if you are seeing results.
Next in Part III, the science of hyperbaric treatments.