Two-year-old Eden Carlson’s brain was damaged after she fell into the family swimming pool in 2016. But doctors have managed to reverse the trauma, giving the little girl a second chance at life.
Doctors treating Eden used oxygen treatments, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy, to treat the brain damage she had incurred by staying unconscious in the pool for 15 minutes, New York Daily News reports.
On the day she almost drowned, Eden’s mother found her and pulled her out, then performed CPR on her. Doctors at the local hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas, were able to revive her two hours later. The child had also suffered a cardiac arrest, and the lack of oxygen led to a severe brain injury.
Eden was unable to speak, walk or respond to verbal cues. She was in the hospital for 48 days under critical care before she was discharged.
In order to “wake” her brain, doctors administered oxygen at a higher pressure than the general atmospheric pressure, which increased the amount of oxygen in her blood and repaired the damaged brain tissue in a sealed, pressurized hyperbaric chamber.
Paul Harch, a hyperbaric specialist from LSU Health New Orleans, 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.
Harch wanted to try oxygen therapies in an attempt to heal Eden’s brain. She was given oxygen treatments at “normobaric level” or sea level 55 days after the incident, for 45 minutes twice a day. The treatments helped her regain movement in her arms and hands, and allowed her to partially feed herself and speak in short bursts.
Three weeks after the accident, the toddler was moved to a hospital in New Orleans that had a hyperbaric chamber. After just 10 sessions, Eden’s mother said that she is back to “near normal,” able to walk and speak even better than before. Eden also scored well in her motor function, cognition and neurological tests.
The child underwent an MRI scan 162 days after the accident, and results showed that while she still had mild residual brain injury, the cortical and white matter atrophy was almost completely reversed.
The doctors are not sure how exactly the oxygen treatments resulted in such a dramatic reversal, but said that the oxygen helped reduce swelling and prompted brain cells to survive.