Acknowledging, in a 2009 article in the New York Times, that “hyperbaric oxygen is only now beginning to reach its potential,” Jane E. Brody adds this caveat:
At the same time, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has joined the ranks of unproven remedies for many conditions, especially incurable ones like cerebral palsy and autism. The use of the therapy in these situations often borders on quackery that exploits desperate patients and parents. One family I know spent $40,000 in a futile attempt to reverse their child’s cerebral palsy; another spent more than that and even bought a home hyperbaric unit to treat their child’s autism.
Doctors who try to apply new therapies to difficult medical problems shouldn’t be damned by the media for doing so. What’s more, the media needs to check in more often — at least every three years! — with “unproven remedies” to see what’s new in the field and duly, diligently report that news. Until that happens, it’s up to patients, their families, and advocates to do our own homework via the internet. That’s how I learned about a medical issue that has vexed me since 1999, when I was taken to the emergency hospital in the middle of the night.
The procedure was incision and drainage of an abscess caused by a perirectal fistula. The incision was deliberately left to heal on its own, without stitches, but it never fully healed, and it causes me a great deal of discomfort. Mine is not a life-or-death condition; rather, it’s what I jokingly call a quality-of-life-or-death issue. My attending physicians couldn’t give me an explanation as to what had caused the problem; I had to research that on my own, and unlocking the multi-pronged answer took years. During that time, my reporting on pets and their health led me to seek stem cell therapy for my dogs — and ultimately, to investigate stem cell therapy for myself.