CBS Local– After a toddler suffered brain damage from a drowning incident in which she was submerged under water for 15 minutes, scientists have been able to reverse the damage sustained using oxygen therapy.

This reversal of brain damage is believed to a be a world first, according to LSU Health.

In February 2016, Eden Carlson fell into a family swimming pool and her heart didn’t beat on its own for two hours. Now, just months after the incident, doctors have been able to successfully return her ability to walk and talk.

Before doctors attempted two types of oxygen therapy, Carlson was unresponsive to all stimuli. She had suffered severe injury to her brain’s grey matter, which plays a major role in allowing the body’s central nervous system to function properly.

Carlson was then treated with the oxygen therapy. First, they used normobaric oxygen therapy, which contains oxygen levels similar to what you find at sea level. Then they used hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which is a more intensive and oxygen-rich form of treatment.

An MRI after extensive rounds of both oxygen therapy types revealed that the brain damage first found had been almost completely reversed. Doctors point to the oxygen therapy as well as the patient having a young, developing brain.

“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 Dr. Paul Hersch, who treated Carlson. “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.”

Hersch calls oxygen therapy low-risk, and believes it should be further used with the hopes of helping kids like Carlson.

“Such low-risk medical treatment may have a profound effect on recovery of function in similar patients who are neurologically devastated by drowning,” said Hersch.


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