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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2002 May;8(4):588-95.

Neurodevelopmental outcome for extended cold water drowning: a longitudinal case study.

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William Stixrud, Ph.D., and Associates, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA.


There is little longitudinal data examining outcome of pediatric near-drowning. Most literature tracks status 5 years or less post insult, focusing primarily on gross neurologic status as opposed to more subtle neurocognitive deficits. The present case tracks the neuropsychological profile of a child who was submerged for 66 min, the longest time documented. Acute medical support was aggressive, and recovery was dramatic, being featured in multiple media reports. Although an article published 6 years after the near-drowning described the child as "recovering completely," the longitudinal profile indicates a pronounced pattern of broad cognitive difficulties, particularly notable for global memory impairment. Neuropsychological test results were significant despite the fact that the patient's recent MRI and MEG were within normal limits. This case demonstrates the need for long-term neuropsychological follow-up of pediatric patients with histories of neurologic injury, as gross neurological examination and MRI and MEG scans may not reveal underlying brain dysfunction.

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