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Second oxygen chamber sought

Published March 19, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Two young mothers say an oxygen chamber usually used by scuba divers to cure the bends has changed the lives of their children, who have neurological ailments.

Anna Suor said her son Tyler, 6, suffers from autism and seizure disorders. Before using a device called a hyperbaric chamber, he wouldn't respond to his name and couldn't remember sequential tasks such as washing his hands after using the toilet.

After four to five weeks of getting optimal use of a chamber, Tyler responds to his name, understands the rhythm and function of everyday tasks, and can figure out what to do with the pieces in therapeutic puzzles, Suor said.

Tyler's ocular muscular disorder known as strabismus, which results in crossed eyes, also has improved, Suor said.

Shannon Fowler's son Cyriz, 4, has angelman syndrome, which produces such symptoms as speech disorders and seizures. Fowler said her son also has cerebral palsy and is autistic.

"He was almost in a vegetative state," she said.

Cyriz began receiving mild hyperbaric treatment about two years ago. After a week of treatment he was able to hold up his head. After three weeks he could be spoon fed and was able to swallow after having been fed by tube for much of his life.

Hyperbaric chambers are inflatable cylinders made of canvas and Kevlar. Patients get inside the zip-up devices and receive oxygen compressed at a higher-than-normal pressure.

The painless procedure forces oxygen into the patient's body, sending an enriched supply to the patient's brain, where dormant cells are activated.

The therapy can be expensive, as are the chambers themselves.

The machines usually cost $32,000 to $35,000, although the second was purchased for $22,000, Bryan said.

The organization is conducting several fundraisers to earn the money. The next one is Saturday, a yard sale at 5801 63rd Ter. N in Pinellas Park. All proceeds from the event will go to buy the second chamber. For information or to make donations for the sale, call Fred Kinney at 528-2944.

[Last modified March 19, 2006, 01:07:22]

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