Drowned toddler’s brain damage sees ‘startling’ reversal with simple treatment

Brittany A. Roston - Jul 17, 2017
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Drowned toddler’s brain damage sees ‘startling’ reversal with simple treatment

Researchers have successfully reversed brain damage in a drowned two-year-old using a low-risk treatment option. The toddler was the victim of a drowning incident in which she suffered cardiac arrest and lost all responsiveness to stimuli. Though resuscitated, the child had suffered notable white and gray matter loss and was described as having ‘deep gray matter injury.’ That has changed substantially, though, thanks to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

The monumental success of this treatment was recently reported by the University of North Dakota School of Medicine’s Dr. Edward Fogarty and LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine’s director of hyperbaric medicine Dr. Paul Harch. The case report reveals that by day 32, MRI scans shows that the two-year-old had suffered both white and gray matter loss with cerebral atrophy; she wasn’t able to walk, talk, or respond to any commands by the time of her hospital discharge on day 48.

To start treatment, the toddler was given normobaric oxygen treatments starting on day 56, and that was soon updated to a different type of oxygen treatment. Starting on day 79 following the incident, the two-year-old patient was given a type of low-risk treatment called hyperbaric oxygen treatment, HBOT for short. This treatment was conducted five days per weeks for 45 minutes per session; a total of 40 sessions were performed.

The case report goes on to explain that 27 days following the HBOT treatment, the two-year-old had experienced a reversal of the atrophy — that is, a reversal of the brain damage that resulted from the drowning. Tests showed a ‘near-normalization of ventricles’ as well as normal cognition and speech, and more. The toddler was reported to be nearly back to normal with the exception of fine motor functions, which required physical therapy.

The reversal of lost brain tissue in this case was described as ‘startling’ by researchers. The success is thanks in part to the early intervention, enabling the HBOT treatment to aid in healing before long-term degeneration began. What isn’t clear is whether the use of normobaric treatment before HBOT treatment helped produce these excellent results, or if HBOT treatment by itself would be enough.

SOURCE: Medical Gas Research


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