Dr. Paul Harch, Clinical Professor and Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, and Dr. Edward Fogarty, at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, report the case of the reversal of brain volume loss in a two-year-old drowning victim unresponsive to all stimuli treated with normobaric oxygen (oxygen at sea level) and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The report is published in Medical Gas Research, available here. The two-year-old girl experienced cardiac arrest after cold water drowning accident in a swimming pool. After resuscitation at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, MRI revealed deep gray matter injury and cerebral atrophy with gray and white matter loss. She had no speech, gait or responsiveness to commands with constant squirming and head shaking at hospital discharge.
“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,” notes Harch. “Although it’s impossible to conclude from this single case if the sequential application of normobaric oxygen then HBOT would be more effective than HBOT alone, in the absence of HBOT therapy, short duration, repetitive normobaric oxygen therapy may be an option until HBOT is available. Such low-risk medical treatment may have a profound effect on recovery of function in similar patients who are neurologically devastated by drowning.”