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Sensation: Brain damage after 15 minutes under water - toddler recovers completely thanks to new treatment


Oxygen therapy reverses brain damage in children
Children especially like to play in the water in summer. The nightmare for all parents is that their child gets under water and drowns unsupervised. Severe health risks can quickly arise if children are not immediately rescued from the water. A lack of oxygen often causes brain damage. However, researchers have now been able to reverse the supposedly persistent damage in a toddler after such an accident.

The scientists at LSU Health New Orleans have now, for the first time in the world, succeeded in reversing the brain damage that occurred in an almost drowned toddler who was under water for 15 minutes. The doctors used a number of oxygen treatments for this. The experts published their report on the treatment in the medical gas research journal.

Child about 15 minutes without air under water
An almost fatal swimming accident in the family pool in February 2016 caused brain damage to the two-year-old toddler. The child had been under water without air for about 15 minutes in this accident. In order to reverse the damage that occurred, the doctors gave the toddler oxygen at a pressure higher than the general atmospheric pressure. The experts explain that the amount of oxygen in the blood was increased and the damaged tissue was repaired in a sealed and pressurized so-called hyperbaric chamber.

Lack of oxygen led to severe brain injury
The surprising tissue regrowth occurred because we were able to start treatment early before long-term tissue degeneration occurred, explains Paul Harch of LSU Health New Orleans. The child was resuscitated by the mother immediately after she was found, until she was finally taken to a hospital. There, the child could be resuscitated two hours later after suffering cardiac arrest, the doctors say. The lack of oxygen led to a serious brain injury in the toddler. The child was then unable to speak, walk or respond to oral communication.

Oxygen treatments started 55 days after the accident
The child was hospitalized for a total of 48 days before being discharged. The expert Harsch wanted to try to heal the child's brain with a course of oxygen therapy. Oxygen treatments started 55 days after the accident. Therapy was carried out twice a day for 45 minutes each. This treatment caused the affected toddler to regain the movement of his arms and hands, the scientists explain. Three weeks later, the child was transferred to the next hospital with a hyperbaric chamber. The so-called hyperbaric oxygen therapy started there.

Results of oxygen therapy
After only ten sessions, the child's mother said that her child was healthy and normal. The child could walk around again and speak even better than it did before the accident. The results of all neurological, motor functions and cognition tests were significantly improved, the researchers say. An MRI scan 162 days after the incident showed that the child still had a slight remaining brain injury, but the previous cortical and white matter breakdown in the brain was almost completely reversed, the doctors add. Doctors cannot say for sure how exactly oxygen treatment has helped such a dramatic reversal of severe brain damage. The treatment was believed to help reduce swelling and help brain cells survive, the authors explain. (as)

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