Reduce the risk of drowning
01:07 - Source: CNN

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Eden Carlson suffered brain damage after falling into a swimming pool at 23 months old

The girl's recovery is "remarkable," one expert says

CNN  — 

Eden Carlson’s story might be one in a million.

The toddler, who suffered brain damage after falling into a swimming pool at 23 months old, has begun to rebuild her brain function after treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, according to a case study published last month in the journal Medical Gas Research.

“We’re stimulating growth of tissue and inhibiting inflammation and stopping cell death,” said Dr. Paul G. Harch, clinical professor and director of hyperbaric medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy introduces a greater-than-usual amount of oxygen to patients within a special chamber. The special chamber allows a doctor to control both the pressure and the level of vital gas, explained Harch, who treated the child and is lead author of the case study.

After months of oxygen treatments, Eden is a “typical 3-year old,” said her mother, Kristal Carlson of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“Her cognitive abilities and speech are completely recovered. Most of her fine motor skills have returned,” Carlson wrote in an email. “Today she walks with assistance really well. She can walk independently, also, but not long distances.”

A mother’s nightmare

While Carlson was in the shower on February 29, 2016, Eden, who had just learned to walk, slipped through a baby gate and fell into the backyard swimming pool.

“Her older siblings lost track of her and thought she was with me,” explained Carlson, who is still unsure how long Eden may have been in the water.

It could have been “as long as 15 minutes,” she said, but was “at least five minutes.”

Also unclear is how long her heart stopped beating, Harch said.

Eden Carlson fell into a backyard pool at 23 months old.

“She stopped breathing, obviously, once she was face-down and probably inhaled some water, but we don’t know how long after that her heart stopped and her blood pressure went to zero,” Harch said. “We just know that when Mom got her out of the pool, there was nothing.”

Carlson said her first instinct was to get her daughter to breathe.