New Therapy Reverses Brain Damage in Toddler

New Therapy Reverses Brain Damage in Nearly Drowned Toddler A two-year-old girl who suffered severe brain damage after almost drowning in her family’s swimming pool has almost fully recovered, thanks to an innovative series of oxygen treatments. In February 2016, the Arkansas girl was found without a heartbeat after being submerged in cold water for almost 15 minutes, reports say. She was resuscitated at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, but could no longer speak, walk, or respond to voices. An MRI revealed deep gray matter injury and cerebral atrophy with gray and white matter loss.

The child’s family consulted Dr. Paul Harch, director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and an American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) Diplomate in Emergency Medicine. Because hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which has been used for near-drowning victims, was not available near the family’s location, Dr. Harch and a team from the University of North Dakota began a bridging therapy. Fifty-five days after the near drowning, they began treating the child with normobaric oxygen – oxygen at sea-level pressure – for 45 minutes, twice a day through a nasal cannula. Not only did the patient became more alert and stop squirming, but she showed neurological improvement that included more hand and arm movement, eye tracking, and short-sequenced speech.

About a month later, the toddler was moved to New Orleans, where Dr. Harch began hyperbaric oxygen treatment in which the patient breathed pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber for 45 minutes a day, five days a week. After 39 sessions, her gait improved and her speech was assessed to be at a level better than before the accident. The young patient also demonstrated near-normal motor function, normal cognition, and improvements on nearly all neurological abnormality tests. At the end of the treatment, 162 days after the near-drowning, MRI scans showed mild residual injury to the patient’s brain, but also a near-complete reversal of cortical and white matter atrophy.

“The startling growth of tissue in this case occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration,” said 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.”

Dr. Harch exemplifies the commitment to patient care espoused by the ABPS. Our goal is to give physicians across the nation an opportunity to demonstrate similar dedication and proficiency by earning board certification. To learn more about the eligibility requirements associated with board certification through the ABPS, contact us today.

Save the Date
House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine