Eden Carlson: Brain Damage Reversed


Eden relearning how to use parts of her body

Meet Eden Carlson, a 2-year-old who nearly drowned in her pool in 2016. Eden managed to get past the baby gate and a heavy door and into the pool when her mother, Kristal Carlson, was showering. Eden had no pulse for 10 to 15 minutes after she was found not breathing in the pool. She later went into cardiac arrest and was unresponsive without a heartbeat for two hours.

In addition to Eden’s kidneys and liver not working, her blood pressure was dangerously low. According to the MRI, there was deep gray matter injury to her brain and cerebral atrophy, which meant there was a loss of neurons and their connections. She was given 2- 48 hours to live, but pulled through in the end, and was released from the hospital 48 days later. She was unresponsive to people talking to her.

Eden was given oxygen therapy treatments to attempt reversing the brain damage. She endured the treatments twice a day for 45 minutes each. Thus, Eden’s progress increased rapidly. She could laugh and have control over her arms, eyes, and speech. Then, she underwent treatment using a hyperbaric chamber. This also occurred for 45 minutes, but only one time every day, for 5 days. Only 10 treatments were performed before Eden’s parents believed Eden was back to her old self. About 27 days after the last hyperbaric treatment, her brain damage was almost completely reversed. Because of her age, her recovery was quicker and even more miraculous.

CNN states that Dr. Paul G. Harch, director of hyperbaric medicine at LSU, was “stimulating growth of tissue and stopping cell death.” Hyperbaric oxygen activates a greater pressure than that of the atmospheric pressure at sea level. It is controlled in a chamber where the doctor can control the pressure and amount of gas that enters. All of her cognitive abilities and speech were restored and working. Currently, she can walk by herself but not for long periods of time.

Hyperbaric therapy is often used by the US Navy to treat decompression sickness or diver’s disease. In 2008, the logistics of the therapy were just beginning to be understood. It was determined that 88% of people who drown and are underwater for fewer than 5 minutes, survive with good neurological outcomes. 77% survive with good neurological outcomes when they are underwater for 10 minutes. If you are underwater for more than 10 minutes, the outcomes are not predictable.

According to Mayo Clinic, mild brain injuries typically require no treatment, just rest and close monitoring. Emergency care patients will be rushed to emergency surgery or ICU to minimize damage including inflammation, bleeding and reduction in oxygen. Many patients are put on medication to prevent seizures, coma, and fluid in the system. Rehabilitation is often required when there is a significant brain injury.