January 2010 Fact Sheet
Dolphin Assisted Treatment, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and the Adeli Suit
Dr. Pedro Weisler, a child neurologist at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH just published a commentary in Clinical Pediatrics discussing 3 Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments for children with developmental disorders. The following are highlights from his paper.
1. ) CAM is defined as “ a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine”.
2. ) For the most part CAM treatments “ are based on anecdotal evidence and at times rather unusual ideas about the biology of the condition to which they are being applied”.
3. ) In 2002, Americans spent more than $34 billion for CAM treatments.
4. ) Dolphin- Assisted Therapy (DAT) for treatment of mental retardation
- A researcher has postulated that the ultrasound produced by dolphins has a ‘positive effect on the brain’s psycho-neuro-immunological alpha state’ and that the ultrasonic energy may cause neuronal migration and other cellular changes in living tissue.
- Studies to evaluate these claims don’t exist
- The cost of a 4-day DAT program is approximately $4,500.
5. ) Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for the treatment of cerebral palsy
- HBOT is the therapeutic use of oxygen at concentrations higher than normal air
- HBOT has proven efficacy for the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness and would healing
- The biological premise that HBOT is useful for the treatment of CP is based on the theory that exposure to high levels of pressurized oxygen can heal or reactivate damaged neurons.
- In most cases, the underlying cause for CP is periventricular leukomalacia, an injury of white matter in the brain. White matter is produced by oligodendrocytes, a glial cell, not a neuron, so the hypothetical basis for HBOT treatment is not defensible.
- No well-designed, controlled clinical study has shown that HBOT is more effective for the treatment of CP than exposure to pressurized air
- Reports of the benefits of HBOT on improving CP-related symptoms are from testimonials, single patient studies or poorly designed experiments from HBOT facilities
- The cost of a typical 40 session treatment is $4000.
6. ) Adeli Suit (AST) for the treatment of cerebral palsy
- The Adeli Suit was first designed for Russian Cosmonauts to counter the effects of weightlessness (loss of muscular fitness and decreased bone density)
- The AST technique uses an intensive exercise protocol paired with putting on the suit for 1 month
- The most recent clinical study comparing the Adeli suit with the use of a standard neurodevelopmental treatment found no difference in improvement of CP-related symptoms although both treatment groups did show greater than expected improvement
- The authors of the study concluded that the children with CP benefitted because they received intensive therapy, irrespective of type, for 1 month and because of the increased involvement of their families in their treatment.
- The cost of a 28 day AST treatment is $4000.00.
7. ) Conclusion: There is no good clinical evidence to support the use of these 3 alternative treatments for cerebral palsy. With regard to DAT and HBOT, there is no underlying biological basis that supports their use in the treatment of mental retardation and cerebral palsy, respectively. What is becoming clear, is that parental involvement, combined with intensive, physical therapy has beneficial effects on children with CP.