Experimental oxygen therapy reverses brain damage in Arkansas toddler

24 July 2017

An Arkansas toddler who suffered severe brain injury after nearly drowning had the damage reversed with a new method of treatment.

In the treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), the patient is exposed to pure oxygen within the confines of a carefully controlled pressurised chamber. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, during the therapy, the body gets three times the normal amount of oxygen.

Eden Carlson from Arkansas nearly drowned in the family pool just a day before her second birthday. She was found floating face down, unresponsive, but barely alive.

According to Dr Paul Harch's, initial prognosis, the little girl's heart had stopped beating.

"It took 100 minutes of CPR at both the house and the emergency room to get a return of circulation," aol.com reported. "And when they did, she had lab values that you rarely see in a living human being."

MRI scans showed significant brain injury and her brain had started shrinking. The little girl was losing both gray matter, critical to muscle control, sensory perception and speech and white matter, the network of central nervous system wiring that made up much of the brain tissue.

The next two months saw Eden lose muscle control as also her ability to speak, walk and respond properly to commands.

Harch of Louisiana State University Health New Orleans School of Medicine then decided to try administering oxygen through Eden's nose at sea-level pressure in 45 minute increments, twice a day. A month later, she started breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber five days a week. The treatment continued over 40 sessions.

The results have been hailed as miraculous. Eden was able to laugh, move about, and even speak and doctors discovered, in what could be a medical first, her brain damage had started reversing itself. The doctor attributed the remarkable results to an early enough intervention in a young, growing child before long-term tissue degeneration.

Mom Kristal Carlson told USA Today, pretty soon "... it's going to be like she never had an accident."

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