Toddler's Brain Damage Reversed through Two-step Oxygen Therapy

John Greim
John Greim

22 July, 2017

Doctors have reversed brain damage in an Arkansas toddler, who was pulled from a swimming pool without a pulse in February 2016, in what is being described as a first-of-its kind reversal. But doctors have managed to significantly reverse the trauma against all odds.

In addition, Miller said Eden's recovery may have been related to the temperature of the water when she was submerged. Over this time, the child stopped squirming as much, she was able to move her arms and hands, began to eat orally, and could speak in short sentences.

As well as being able to speak in short sequences at her pre-drowning speech level, although she did have diminished vocabulary. They just started a therapy in their hospital called #Hyperbaric Oxygen, and this helped in reversing the brain damage.

The statement from LSU Health follows below.

After researchers from LSU New Orleans and North Dakota School of Medicine treated the 2-year-old to normobaric oxygen therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), Carlson is now able to walk and talk, and her cognitive and motor skills have nearly returned to normal. The report was published in the July issue of the journal Medical Gas Research. An MRI on day 4 after the drowning showed the grey matter injury and on day 32 a repeat MRI of her brain revealed the atrophy of her brain. She could not sit up or even hold her head up.

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One reason hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been met with skepticism is that it's been hard to explain how this treatment works, he said.

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.

At the 78 day post-drowning mark, the patient and her family traveled to New Orleans, where she began receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. At the beginning of each session, the patient showed visually apparent and/or physical examination-documented neurological improvement. After just 10 short sessions, she had nearly completely recovered. "Her language development accelerated and ended up improving to the point that it was better than it had been before the accident". There was an immediate improvement. Researchers believe the oxygen therapy, coupled with Eden having the developing brain of a child, had activated genes that promote cell survival and reduce inflammation-allowing the brain to recover.

"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", said Harch.

Harch added that it was impossible to tell from Eden's case whether the combination of normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy was necessarily more effective than hyperbaric oxygen therapy on its own.

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