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Infant brain damage treatment includes care for complications like developmental delays, cognitive impairments, or conditions like cerebral palsy. Some of the treatments available include surgery, physical and occupational therapy, medications, and hypothermic therapy.
About Infant Brain Damage
Infants may suffer brain damage for various reasons, many stemming from mistakes and complications of childbirth. Asphyxia is a leading cause and occurs when an infant is deprived of oxygen for a significant period of time.
This may result from complications with the umbilical cord or placenta because of illness in the mother or when a child’s head becomes lodged in the pelvis during labor.
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Infant brain damage treatments are most effective then the damage is recognized and diagnosed immediately. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen because symptoms may be mild or only become evident as a child grows.
If brain damage is noticeable immediately after birth, interventions like surgery or hypothermic treatment may be options. If a doctor does not diagnose brain damage until later, a child may need various therapies and educational interventions to treat the symptoms rather than the actual brain damage.
Surgery is usually only a valid infant brain damage treatment when the damage is caused by severe head trauma. A skull fracture or bleeding on the brain, for instance, can be treated with surgery.
This kind of damage may be caused by a difficult delivery or inappropriate use of instruments during delivery.
Bleeding on the brain is called a hemorrhage, and it is often treated by draining the blood or other fluids that collect in and put pressure on the brain. A skull fracture may or may not need surgical treatment depending on the type or severity.
One of the newest and most innovative treatments for infant brain damage is called hypothermic treatment and involves cooling the baby’s brain to prevent or reverse the damage. A study conducted in 2009 found that most babies at risk for brain damage benefited from this treatment.
It is thought that cooling the brain prevents the formation of harmful substances. These substances may be responsible for killing cells in the brain.
Hypothermia treatment uses cooling to lower a baby’s body temperature from 98.6 degrees to 92.3 degrees. This lower temperature is maintained for about 72 hours. The treatment can be used in any newborn suspected of having suffered brain damage during birth.
Babies who have undergone the treatment were found to have fewer complications of brain damage when examined at 18 months. It remains to be seen if the positive effects of the treatment will last longer than that.
Depending on the symptoms of brain damage in an infant, medications may be a part of the treatment plan. For instance, seizures may result from brain damage and can be treated with anti-seizure medications. 
As a child gets older and struggles with developmental or behavioral challenges due to brain damage, medications can help.
For instance, drugs used to treat ADHD may help children with brain damage control their impulses and aggressive behaviors and help them focus and concentrate in school and other settings.
For children who live with the consequences of infant brain damage over the long term, various types of therapy can help manage and improve symptoms. Physical therapy can help a child learn to move more easily and reduce pain.
Physical therapy may include strength training, flexibility exercises, training for coordination and balance, massage, thermal treatments, and exercises to help move joints.
Occupational therapy may also be a treatment for the symptoms of brain damage. This type of therapy helps children learn how to overcome the challenges that the damage has left them with.
A therapist may help a child learn how to use the bathroom, perform typical hygiene practices, use pencils or tablets, learn how to eat without assistance, and do other ordinary tasks that most of us take for granted. These therapists can also help children learn to use adaptive equipment like wheelchairs.
Many children with brain damage caused in infancy will grow up to have cognitive deficits or learning disabilities. However, these do not have to hold them back, and educational interventions, especially applied early, can help them catch up to their peers.
For instance, speech and language therapy can help a child struggling to talk or learn new vocabulary at a typical rate.
Infant brain damage treatment depends on individual factors with each child. Quick interventions like surgery or hypothermic treatment can help when brain damage is immediately recognizable. When it is not so obvious and only appears as developmental symptoms later, various types of treatment can help a child recover.
If your child is struggling because of brain damage, know that there are treatment options that can help. Also, know that if someone was responsible for your child’s brain damage because of medical malpractice, you have options to seek compensation. An experienced malpractice lawyer can help you file a lawsuit and get the compensation your child needs.
- Brain injury in newborns could have many causes. (2014, May 14). World & Local Health, Disease & Science News in Sarasota, FL.
Retrieved from: https://health.heraldtribune.com/2014/05/13/brain-injury-newborns-many-causes/
- Head or Brain Injury. (n.d.). Boston Children's Hospital.
Retrieved from: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/h/head-or-brain-injury
- Intervention for infants with brain injury: Results of a randomized controlled study. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2700252/
- Song M.D., S., & Lyden M.D., FAAN, FAHA, P. (2012, December 14). Overview of Therapeutic Hypothermia. PubMed Central (PMC)
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519955/
- Webb, PsyD, N. (n.d.). Pharmacotherapy for pediatric traumatic brain injury. https://www.apadivisions.org.
Retrieved from: https://www.apadivisions.org/division-55/publications/tablet/2015/12/pediatric-brain-injury