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US doctors successfully reverse brain damage in toddler who nearly drowned

The girl became more alert, awake and stopped squirming, doctors said

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Representative Image
Representative Image

in the have successfully reversed damage in a two-year-old who became unresponsive to all stimuli after a drowning accident.

The girl experienced after a cold water drowning accident in a swimming pool. After resuscitation at Arkansas Children's Hospital in the US, MRI revealed deep injury as well as grey and white matter loss.


She had no speech, gait or responsiveness to commands, and was constantly squirming and shaking her head.

Since hyperbaric therapy was not available in the patient's location, at Louisiana State University Center in the began a bridging to prevent permanent until they could get the patient to a hyperbaric center.

Fifty-five days post-drowning, they began short duration with 100 per cent normobaric for 45 minutes twice a day through a nasal cannula.

The girl became more alert, awake and stopped squirming, said.

Her rate of neurological improvement increased amd she started laughing, increased movement of arms, hands, and taking some food orally.

She also showed pre-drowning speech level, but with diminished

The patient and family then traveled to New Orleans 78 days after drowning, where began treating her with hyperbaric therapy (HBOT).

She "dove" in a hyperbaric chamber for 45 minutes a day, five days a week for 40 sessions.

"At the beginning of each session, the patient showed visually apparent and/or physical examination-documented neurological improvement," said.

"After 10 HBOT sessions, the patient's mother reported that her daughter was "near normal" except for gross motor function, and physical therapy was re-instituted," they said.

After 39 HBOT sessions, the patient exhibited assisted gait, speech level greater than pre-drowning, near normal motor function, normal cognition, improvement on nearly all neurological exam abnormalities, discontinuance of all medications, as well as residual emotional, gait and temperament deficits.

Gait improvement was documented immediately upon returning home.

An MRI at 27 days following HBOT session 40 and 162 days post-drowning demonstrated mild residual injury and near- complete reversal of grey and white matter loss.

The of increased and increased with pressure in the hormone-rich environment in a child's growing is consistent with the of growth hormones and hyperbaric caused by normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen- induced activation of genes that reduce inflammation and promote cell survival.

"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," said Paul Harch, Director of Hyperbaric at LSU

"Such low-risk may have a profound effect on recovery of function in similar who are neurologically devastated by drowning," said Harch.

The case was reported in the journal Gas Research.

First Published: Mon, July 24 2017. 04:12 IST
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