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22 July 2017, 12:43 | Audrey Hill
Image Open Stax College Wikimedia Commons
But doctors have managed to significantly reverse the trauma against all odds. The video explains how the toddler got around the safety of the family's gates and ended up in the pool for 15 minutes that fateful day. After the brain damage she was unable to speak, walk or respond to voices.
But after 10 sessions of therapy, Eden is now able to walk and speak better than before her accident.
Her mother, Kristal Carlson, said they were told nothing could be done to help their daughter because she suffered severe brain damage.
A MRI later revealed that the accident had caused deep grey matter injury and cerebral atrophy, with both grey and white matter loss, making the toddler totally unresponsive to all stimuli. She could not sit up or even hold her head up.
Eden was discharged after 48-hours in intensive care, but her brain injuries led the specialist Harch to recommend oxygen treatments - including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) at his centre in New Orleans.
The treatment, which happened in two stages, started 55 days later with short-duration treatments that administered 100% normobaric oxygen (oxygen at sea level) through a nasal tube for 45 minutes, twice a day. She started to laugh and had more control over her arms and eyes.
With each session "she made quantum improvements", Harch noted. They called his clinic near New Orleans to see if hyperbaric treatment could bring her back. She "dove" in a hyperbaric chamber for 45 minutes a day, five days a week for 40 sessions.
"I found the publication to be sufficiently suspect", said Dr. Ian Miller, a pediatric neurologist and medical director of the comprehensive epilepsy program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, who was not involved in the report. After just 10 short sessions, she had nearly completely recovered.
"What was captured on video was the near immediate improvement in her condition". 162 days post-drowning, following her last HBOT session, the child exhibited near-complete reversal of white matter and cortical atrophy.
"We don't use hyperbaric therapy for anything like this in the United Kingdom", he said, adding Dr Harch's claims "seem far-fetched to me".
"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", Harch stated in press materials.
Although many hospitals offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the United States, Arkansas Children's Hospital - where Eden was first treated - is not among them.
Despite these miraculous-sounding results, the treatment still needs further evidence to confirm its efficacy in "similar patients who are neurologically devastated by drowning".
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