MEDICAL RESEARCH

Toddler's brain damage reversed after near-fatal drowning

A year after a 2-year-old girl nearly drowned in her family’s pool, doctors were able to significantly reverse the brain damage she suffered through a series of oxygen treatments. Eden Carlson, of Fayetteville, Ark., was found by her mother in February 2016, the Daily News reported.

It took two hours to revive Carlson, who also suffered cardiac arrest. The lack of oxygen caused severe brain damage that left her unable to speak, walk or respond to verbal cues, the Daily News reported. But in a case report published by Medical Gas Research, doctors detailed how they used a series of oxygen-based therapies, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy and normobaric therapy, to startle Carlson’s brain into regrowing brain tissue.

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“The starling regrowth of tissue in this case occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration,” Paul Harch, a hyperbaric specialist at LSU Health New Orleans, said in the case report.

Carlson received her first oxygen therapy 55 days after the accident, which included normobaric level oxygen treatments for 45 minutes sessions, two times per day. According to the case report, which was detailed by the Daily News, the therapy helped her regain movement in her arms and legs, as well as make improvements in speech and eating ability.

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After just 10 sessions, Carlson had returned to “near normal,” according to the Daily News. An MRI scan more than five months post-accident showed the cortical and white matter atrophy in Carlson’s brain had almost completely reversed, with mild residual brain injury.

“In the absence of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, short duration, repetitive normobaric oxygen therapy may be an option until hyperbaric oxygen therapy is available,” Harch said, according to the Daily News.  

The family has been chronicling Carlson's recovery on the "Eden's Miracles" Facebook page, as well as through a series of videos uploaded to YouTube.