HBOT for Victims of Near Drowning Brain Damage
Near Drowning – Brain Damage Is a Risk
Near drowning is not fatal, but the repercussions are serious. This is because the body experiences a severe lack of oxygen flow during a near drowning, so brain damage is a high-risk consequence that will likely require long-term treatment for the victim. Patients require special medical attention to prevent related health complications after near drowning. Brain damage is especially difficult but with the right medical care and support there is hope.
It is estimated that between 15 000 and 70 000 incidents of near drowning occur in the United States annually – it is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death nationally. Research also shows that more than 50% of drowning victims require hospitalization or transfer for further care due to near drowning brain damage. Majority of the victims of near drowning incidents are children between 1-4 years old. Adults that experience near drowning incidents are predominantly male and, of these, half are found to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.
Understanding a Near Drowning
A person who is under the water for two minutes will lose consciousness, but should experience little other symptoms afterwards. After four to six minutes under water, the body’s oxygen supply will be completely depleted, leading to the dangerous connection between near drowning and brain damage. When the brain is not able to receive oxygen, it goes into a state known as ‘brain hypoxia’, where the brain begins to lose cells rapidly. Depending on how long the oxygen supply to the brain is cut off, the symptoms of brain hypoxia will be more of less severe.
Unfortunately, the part of the brain damaged first is the cerebral cortex, responsible for functions including memory, speech and voluntary movement. It is likely that victims will require at least basic custodial care, such as help with eating, bathing and dressing.
The symptoms of near drowning brain damage can start from a loss of memory, difficulty in learning new things and reduced judgment abilities. Poor sensory stimulation and motor coordination is likely, meaning the arms and legs can be rendered very stiff and flexed with limited range of motion. In severe cases, coma and paralysis can occur meaning around the clock care, including feeding tubes and breathing tubes.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Help with Near Drowning Brain Damage
How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) work to reduce the impact of near drowning brain damage? First to note is that the sooner the treatment is received, the better. When a patient receives HBOT they are inside a full-body chamber that contains 100% oxygen, five times more than the amount we usually breathe in. This increases the flow of highly oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. Oxygen is our body’s natural healing agent, so HBOT has many benefits. Some benefits that will help patients who have experienced near drowning brain damage include:
- HBOT works at a cellular level and aids in the recovery of brain cells.
- HBOT is done in a full-body chamber so the patient can lie down comfortably and is provided with entertainment during the treatment, which usually takes place in 60-90 minute sessions, 3-5 times per week, depending on the individual case. HBOT treatment at H.O.P.E center is more convenient than a trip to the hospital, and does not require an overnight stay.
- HBOT helps to strengthen the patient’s immune system, minimizing the risk of infection. This is vital for victims of near drowning brain damage since complications such as infection can result in admission to acute-care facilities for such patients.
- HBOT helps to reduce the occurrence of seizures, which are another big risk for the lives of near drowning brain damage victims.
- After receiving 40-80 HBOT, most patients have found improvements in motor ability, sensory stimulation, bladder and bowel control, memory, speech, and cognition.