Hyperbaric chambers used to be best known because Michael Jackson was once photographed in one of them. In other words, they were seen as kooky, anti-aging, space-age, overpriced and over-hyped machinery.
However, the reality is that hyperbaric chambers can save lives. A brother and sister in Illinois are living proof.
Austin and Sydney Williams, now 10 and 8, were often sick for long periods of time, starting when Austin was just a year old. Their mom had to leave work to care for them full time, and doctors were unable to diagnose what appeared to be a mystery illness, even as they both regressed physically and academically. Eventually they were both diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, and Austin with autism, too. Most children with the former, which is a disease that prevents cells from using food to generate the energy necessary for live, don’t live past 10-years-old.
Sydney suffered from hair loss and constant vomiting, and both kids fell victim to eye infections, sinusitis, ear infections and GI upsets, according to the Peoria Journal Star. So their mom kept doing research, and stumbled across the idea of a hyperbaric chamber.
A hyperbaric chamber is an enclosed tube, the inside of which is pressurized with 100 percent oxygen, thereby creating an atmosphere two to three times better for healing because the concentration of oxygen in a person’s tissues is greater, encouraging the growth of blood vessels to damaged areas. They’re used for wound therapy, stroke patients, post-traumatic brain injury, bone infections, carbon monoxide poisoning, some skin and bone infections, gangrene and decompression sickness.
The family uprooted their lives for a month and moved to Wisconsin to go to a hyperbaric treatment center. After just three sessions, the Williams kids starting seeing some very real results. So encouraged by seeing their children eat and play with energy they’d never had before, their parents’ church and community helped the family purchase a $25,000 soft cloth chamber to install in their home, which the kids use for treatments now three times a week. They have been weaned from most other medications and are thriving, with playing on the swingset in their backyard their new favorite pasttime.
For all of the advances of science and technology that forever seem to be on the verge of approvals, it’s heartwarming to read stories about the ones that are making a difference in the here and now. Especially when the happy ending means that two kids are now able to be kids.