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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - Healing Under Pressure

By: Lee Walker

Three-year-old Sharon Baer of Charlotte had a difficult time coming into this world. During her  delivery she suffered a stroke that resulted in a form of cerebral palsy. Her speech was delayed and she had paralysis in the right side of her body. But now her world is getting brighter. Recently her parents sought treatment through Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – a modality that increases the supply of oxygen in the blood. The results have been amazing.

“After the second session she was walking, hopping and dancing without her braces on,” said her mother, Jaye Pierce. “After the fourth session she began to use her right arm in ways she had never done before and after ten sessions we noticed obvious changes in her speech and continue to see very significant improvements every single day.”

Even before Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen—the naturally occurring active element in the atmosphere—in the late 1700s, physicians and scientists were intrigued by the possibility of using increased atmospheric pressure as a medical therapy. As early as 1662, Nathaniel Henshaw, a British clergyman, had built the first sealed chamber to treat ailments such as inflammation, scurvy and arthritis. Later, the Pneumatic Institution for Gas Therapy, established by British physician Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808), spawned the creation of institutes for compression therapy throughout Europe; by 1860, pneumatic spas had reached North America.

Supplemental use of oxygen increased with its availability. By the 1930s, hyperbaric medicine was used for diving and decompression sickness. During the 1960s, medical journals reported the benefits of pressurized hyperoxygenation (hyperbaric oxygen, or HBO) for carbon monoxide poisoning. This sparked an interest within the medical community that led to the building of hyperbaric units at such prestigious medical institutions as Duke University School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston (Harvard Medical School’s pediatric teaching hospital) and others.

Subsequently, benefits were observed when HBO was applied to skin graft acceptance, acute thermal burns, radiation ulcers and foot wounds from diabetes. In 1989, the American Board of Medical Specialists approved a related certification of added competency in Undersea Medicine, and in 1991 the National Board of Hyperbaric Medicine Technology issued its first certification to hyperbaric technicians.

Authors Richard A. Neubauer and Dr. Morton Walker report in their book, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: “For years, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) was used only in the treatment of decompression sickness. However, it is becoming more common in general practice as doctors become acquainted with its application….” Approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association, HBOT physically dissolves extra oxygen into the blood plasma to enhance tissue levels of the life-giving element.

According to Dr. David Perlmutter, a board-certified neurologist, this oxygenation produces several important long-term therapeutic benefits: enhanced growth of new blood vessels; increased ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria and remove toxins; increased growth of fibroblasts (cells involved in wound healing); and enhanced metabolic activity of previously marginally functioning cells, including brain neurons.

Perlmutter is an internationally recognized leader in the use of hyperbaric treatment of neurological disorders, such as autism, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, as well as stroke. He has used HBOT for 20 years at the Perlmutter Hyperbaric Center in Naples, Florida, which has four Sechrist Model 3200 hyperbaric chambers.

“These are the most technologically advanced monoplace, or singleperson, chambers available,” advises Perlmutter. “Treatments typically last one to two hours, and patients can relax, watch television or even nap while they are monitored by trained technicians, with whom they can communicate through an intercom system.”

Shannon and Brian Pridmore opened Charlotte Metro Hyperbarics after their daughter, Gracie, experienced incredible results from the therapy. Gracie was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and mental retardation and could not sit or crawl. After exhausting traditional medical options, the Pridmores tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy and after many sessions Gracie was able to crawl and walk.

The center uses state-of-the-art equipment and has a pediatrician and surgeon on staff. Shannon says they have witnessed amazing results from those with autism, brain injury, near drowning, MS, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and other conditions.

“We have seen patients with Lyme Disease who have no more symptoms after a round of HBOT. We have seen children who couldn’t sit up or crawl, walk out of the center,” says Shannon. “The earlier a patient gets treatment, the better. It varies from person to person, but we have never had a patient who hasn’t benefited in one way or another.”

For more information visit the International Hyperbarics Association at Charlotte Metro Hyperbarics is located at 14330 Oakhill Park Lane, Suite 140 in Huntersville. Info: or 704-875-7189.

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