New therapy reversed brain damage in young drowning victim

Eden Carlson

Treatment reversing brain damage weeks after toddler nearly drowned

Carlson still has a mild residual brain injury but the two major parts that had a brain injury, the cortical and white matter atrophy, are almost completely reversed. As a result of the drowning, she suffered damage to both the brain's white and grey matter, and could no longer to speak or walk. She was in the water at least 10 minutes before being found.

"She had gotten through a baby gate and pushed open a heavy door and she was in the pool, floating face down".

The girl spent 48 days at the Arkansas hospital, but was unable to speak, walk, or respond to commands at the time of discharge and experienced constant squirming and head shaking. She would only squirm with discomfort.

Shortly after her release, doctors with the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans and the University of North Dakota School of Medicine started giving Eden oxygen therapy treatments in an effort to reverse the brain damage in the days before she could travel to New Orleans to undergo treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, according to Newsweek.

The theory goes that hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen in your blood.

This initial treatment, starting 55 days after the incident, involved breathing in 100 percent normobaric oxygen (oxygen at sea level) for 45 minutes twice a day through the nose. Then from day 79 she received HBOT treatment at 1.3 atmosphere absolute (131.7 kPa) air/45 minutes, 5 days/week for a total of 40 sessions.

Seventy-eight days after almost drowning, Eden began hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Doctors credit Eden's young age as being part of the reason for the success of the oxygen treatments. "When she first started taking those first steps, they were so shaky but she was so determined and when we saw that determination in her we knew that she was going to be okay". After this point, she was also once again placed on physical therapy. But the overall development is visible. The 2-year-old's remarkable recovery will be featured at a conference on hyperbaric treatment in New Orleans Aug 18 - 20. The ventricles or empty sac like spaces within the brain appeared to have normalized and further the cerebral atrophy of brain matter loss was seen to have been restored.

Dr. Harch said: "The startling regrowth of tissue in this case occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration".

Studies on hyperbaric oxygen for treating brain injury have had mixed results, with some studies suggesting a benefit in the case of stroke patients, while other studies, like Cifu's research, finding no effect.

While videos documented in Eden's case suggest the therapy has shown positive results, HBOT remains a controversial therapy in the U.S. and is yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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