2 Year Old Girl Drowns: Scientists Reverse Brain Trauma with Hyperbaric Oxygen

As a parent, the thought of a two-year old toddler drowning is dreadful, but that is exactly what happened to two Louisiana parents in a swimming pool accident. Luckily, scientists at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center used hyperbolic oxygen therapy over many months to reverse almost all of the symptoms.

The girl in question, a two-year old toddler, experienced cardiac arrest and drowned in a swimming pool, which caused severe brain damage. After resuscitation, the child underwent MRIs and other tests, which showed gray matter injury, cerebral atrophy, and gray / white matter loss. Worse, her speech was gone and she was only capable of of squirming and shaking her head erratically.

To some parents or doctors, the case may have looked like a lost cause. Dr. Paul Harch and Dr. Edward Fogarty were not among them. First, the two doctors created a short duration treatment, which consisted of 100% normobaric oxygen for 45 minutes twice per day (through nasal cannula).

Starting 55 days after the drowning, the two-year old toddler became more alert, awake, and stopped her constant squirming. For Dr. Harch, it was a good first sign, but he knew they could do more.

hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Treating the toddler with an hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the child became “near normal” according to her mother. Motor movement was back, she could speak again (albeit with limited vocabulary), and many aspects of her cognition were back to normal. In fact, 27 days after the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the child's MRI showed near complete reversal of cortical and white matter atrophy.

In essence, her brain was brought back from the dead.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Healthy Biohackers

Most therapies are designed to help solve a particular health problem or disease. Saving lives is far more lucrative than making them incrementally better (as is the case with biohacking and cognitive enhancement). The lessons we glean from these studies can make our cognitive enhancement quests more attainable.

A quick look online showed the same therapy this girl had over 2 weeks would cost around $5,200 at a local Austin, Texas hyperbaric oxygen therapy center. At $130 / hour, it isn't cheap, but it is possible to undergo treatments that have proven to significantly reverse neurodegeneration.

While most evidence points towards reversing brain trauma, it's clear hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can increase neurogenesis through a variety of mechanisms. Although nootropics enthusiasts currently use options like lion's mane mushroom for neurogenesis, it seems HBOT is far more effective.

As the price of HBOT comes down, it may be a new frontier in brain optimization for biohackers and the general public.


Nootropedia is meant to be a resource for individuals researching drugs and supplements that are good for brain health, otherwise known as nootropics, and thus we are the Nootropics Encyclopedia. Because of our in-depth coverage of this topic, our community has requested that we cover other brain health topics and "lifehacks" so that has become the focus of Nootropedia.