by Linda Hurtado.
ABC ActionNews, Tampa Bay.
originally aired/published 08/31/2011.
[read original article]
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Danielle and Lia look like a typical mom and daughter occupying their time before an appointment away from home. A closer look gives you a clue as to why Lia is here. “She has cerebral palsy. She had twin-twin syndrome in utero. Her twin is typical — no issues, but she probably developed some brain damage in utero due to that condition.”
Lia has been receiving state funded therapy since July, but due to budget cuts and their private insurance being tapped out, Danielle said therapy will stop soon. “It’s frustrating. We’ve tried applying for Medicaid as a secondary insurance for her and were denied. I applied for Social Security for her and was denied. At her therapy costing 700 to 800 dollars a week, we can’t cover that.”
Danielle learned about the St. Pete-based Chamber of Hope online. They offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy — for free — to kids with chronic conditions from cerebral palsy to autism to shaken baby syndrome.
Mark Fowler is with the non-profit group that runs the Chamber of Hope. “The chambers we use are portable chambers that are FDA-approved to be used in a home or in a center like this without a doctor being present or even a technician.”
Marks says they have been inspected by the city and the chambers are safe. “Because we do not pressurize with medical-grade oxygen there’s not a fire hazard.”
The chambers won’t cure conditions, but Mark believes every child will see an improvement because, “We have a tremendous amount of dormant cells in the grey matter in our head. That’s our cells that are sleeping. In a hyperbaric chamber, by saturating the brain with oxygen, you start to wake those cells up.”
And that’s Danielle’s hope — that Lia’s brain will reroute itself and improve Lia’s functions. “We hope the oxygen therapy will help her to be more mobile and move more independently.”