A young girl from Arkansas is proving to be a miracle of modern science. The toddler has twice defied the odds and is now giving new hope for treatment and recovery from severe brain injuries.
In January of 2016, Eden Carlson nearly drowned in her family’s swimming pool. After close to 15 minutes in the water and a few hours where her heart wasn’t beating on its own, Eden’s first miracle was surviving. But the diagnosis after that was looking grim.
With her brain denied life-giving oxygen for such a long period, it looked like she was going to be permanently brain-damaged. Doctors didn’t believe that she would ever be the same again. Walking, talking, and being a carefree and playful little girl was not in her future. Or so they thought.
A year and a half after the incident, Eden is making a remarkable comeback – thanks to new and experimental treatments that appear to have reversed much of the damage to her brain. Simple science tells us that our brain requires oxygen so doctors took that a step further using two different types of oxygen therapy.
In the first – normobaric oxygen therapy – Eden was given oxygen at the levels and pressures found at sea level. In the second – hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) – doctors placed Eden in a special chamber where she would breathe 100% pure oxygen under increased pressure. This technique is designed to boost the body’s healing processes.
The results were starling. Within 40 HBOT sessions, scans showed that Eden’s brain had almost completely returned to normal – the first time such a recovery has been reported.
Eden’s young age (just shy of her 2nd birthday at the time of the incident) is likely a factor in her improvement, but it does give some hope to medical researchers looking at how the brain functions and how to reverse brain damage. More research is needed but for Eden and her family, the future is much more promising than the gloomy assessment presented to them just after her initial injury.
For more information
- Oxygen therapy brings ‘remarkable’ turnaround for toddler who fell in pool, CNN
- What Happens After A Lack of Oxygen to the Brain?, SpinalCord.com
- Subacute normobaric oxygen and hyperbaric oxygen therapy in drowning, reversal of brain volume loss: a case report, Medical Gas Research
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