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Scientists Reversed Brain Damage In A 2-Year-Old Girl Who Drowned In A Swimming Pool


US researchers reported about what they think is one of a kind happening – doctors have reversed brain damage in a 2-year-old girl who drowned in a swimming pool and was in the water for 15 minutes. They treated her condition with a combination of oxygen therapies.

The little girl’s heart didn’t beat for whole 2 hours after she was dragged out from the pool. She lost her ability to walk, speak, and recognize voices. Moreover, she would involuntarily shake her head and squirm around.

Her first MRI scan after the incident showed a deep grey matter injury along with a cerebral atrophy with white and grey matter brain loss.

However, the great thing is that doctors were able to reverse this brain damage using oxygen treatments which included hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). This therapy was administered by a team of doctors from LSU Health New Orleans and the University of North Dakota.

“The startling re-growth of tissue, in this case, occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration”, said Paul Harch, a hyperbaric specialist from the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.

This incident occurred last year in February. Eden Carlson, in the time a two-year-old girl, slipped into the baby gate and down into the family swimming pool while her mother was taking a shower.

Her mother saw her drowning after 15 minutes and immediately gave her CPR, but she was not resuscitated for 2 hours. Eden was finally revived by doctors at Washington Regional Medical Centre in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

After being in intensive care for 48 hours at the hospital, doctors suggested that she get oxygen therapies in order to “wake-up” her injured brain.

These hyperbaric oxygen therapies happen in a room in which the air pressure is three times higher than the air pressure in a regular room. This expands the lungs’ capacity to gather more oxygen than in a room with normal air pressure. This way the person gets 100% pure oxygen in greater amounts that spread throughout the whole body, thus repairing any damaged area.

At first, they gave her a series of normobaric oxygen treatments with a sea level pressure, 55 days after the drowning occurred. This treatment lasted 45 minutes and she received it twice a day through a nasal cannula.

These treatments helped Eden in reducing her squirming. She also recovered her alertness and got back her ability to move her hands and arms. She could also laugh, pronounce short sentences, and she was partly able to eat orally again.

Three weeks later, Eden and her family moved to New Orleans where she started receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

Her mother noticed that her little girl is back to nearly normal after just 10 sessions. Along with the hyperbaric treatments, Eden started doing physical exercises also, in order to get back her major motor functions.

Once she completed all her 39 hyperbaric sessions, Eden’s walking had drastically improved along with her speech that was even better than before. Also, she showed valuable improvements on all neurological abnormality tests and her cognition and motor movements were almost normal.

At the end of her treatment, and 162 days after the incident, she did MRI scan again and the results showed just a minimal residual brain injury. But, what is important is that the MRI scan revealed an almost complete reversal of her brain’s cortical and white matter atrophy.

Eden’s case and treatment are further explained in details in Medical Gas Research.    

The team of doctors behind Eden’s case said that this case is not reported yet with any therapy.

They still cannot fully explain how this brain reverse actually happened, but the fact remains that normobaric oxygen therapies combined with hyperbaric oxygen treatments did wonder to the little girl’s brain – they reduced the inflammatory processes in the brain and helped in the revival of the brain cells.