Eden Carlson age 2 was face down in the pool for over 15 minutes when her mother discovered her. She was resuscitated and brought to the hospital unconscious and comatose. Doctors couldn’t awaken her nor did she react to any stimuli. Outside of uncontrolled squirming and shaking her head she wouldn’t make any movements you’d consider normal. MRI scans showed her brain’s gray matter was much damaged and she also lost some gray and white matter from her brain.
Her parents decided to get her hyperbaric (high pressure oxygen) treatment under the watchful eyes of Dr. Paul Harch. The researchers of the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and the University Of North Dakota School Of Medicine first began treating her with normobaric (regular pressure) oxygen therapy. This stage of treatment began 55 days after Eden drowned and it lasted for 78 days. Eden received oxygen twice a day for 45 minutes during those days. The researchers and family detected immediate improvement including hand and leg movements from these treatments.
78 days later they began the 2nd stage of the treatment, the hyperbaric treatment. Eden would enter a hyperbaric chamber 5 days a week for 45 minutes each time. After 4 weeks Eden returned to almost 100% function and after 39 treatments she was relearning motor and speech skills walking and talking. Eden reached the level of function she had before drowning.
The MRI scans done after the last hyperbaric treatment showed almost total reversal of the damage done to the brain. The grey and white matter that was lost came back too. The researchers say that it will take more studies to ascertain that hyperbaric treatment can repair brain damage but it’s clear that the treatment has almost no risks and may help reverse brain damage as we’ve seen in Eden’s case.