In February last year, a 2-year-old girl called Eden suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage after she fell into a 5°C (41°F) pool outside and drowned for 10 to 15 minutes.
A team of doctors now claim they have effectively "reversed" the brain damage of the toddler after starting normobaric oxygen and hyperbaric oxygen therapy 55 days post-incident.
Despite these miraculous-sounding results, the treatment still needs further evidence to confirm its efficacy in "similar patients who are neurologically devastated by drowning." The recent case study was published this week in the journal Medical Gas Research.
The theory goes that hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. This, therefore, improves oxygen delivery for tissue functions to help fight infection or minimize injury.
After the little girl was resuscitated, brains scans revealed significant brain damage involving deep gray matter injury and cerebral atrophy with gray and white matter loss. She was left in a state of constant squirming and head shaking, and was unable to talk, walk, and remained unresponsive to commands.
Dr Paul Harch, clinical professor and director of hyperbaric medicine at LSU Health New Orleans, suggested she try hyperbaric oxygen therapy. However, since the treatment center was not near where the family lived, they began a “bridge” treatment in an attempt to stop further degeneration of brain tissues.
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. The immediate results appeared to be phenomenal.
“Within hours the patient was more alert, awake, and stopped squirming,” the study notes. Over the next 23 days, the doctors reported the girl laughing, making short sentences, and increasing the movement of her limbs.